Pull! — three new graphic novel reviews

I was planning on getting this up last week, so I could have a March Pull.  Oopsie.  Anyway, on with the show….

The Walking Dead Vol. 7: The Calm Before

It’s a lovely story, except for the whole “may be eaten by zombies at any time” thing. The prison has been a haven for Rick’s group for awhile now, and as the months go by things are slowly getting better. The threat of the Governor looms large, but with days upon days of nothing, how vigilant can they stay? Kirkman does an excellent job of moving through time in this volume, showing how the characters progress. But this title shouldn’t fool readers into thinking all is well. There’s a storm brewing, and before the last page is turned our little group will be up to their necks in it. Good to see that this series can go an entire volume with little to no “real” action and yet still be engrossing.

28 Days Later Volume 4: Gangwar

Selena has been hacking and slashing her way to London in this series, dragging the two surviving members of the journalistic team with her. In Gangwar, we get to see that all monsters in the U.K. aren’t necessarily infected. The King in this volume isn’t as nauseatingly disgusting as The Governor in The Walking Dead, but he ain’t no creampuff either. Writer Michael Alan Nelson delivers a heart-stopping volume with plenty of surprises and a few shocks. But Selena is still the badass mo-fo she’s always been. Am I the only one wishing she and Michonne from TWD could meet? That would be some good stuff.

Onward Towards Our Noble Deaths

A masterwork. The story of a doomed Japanese battalion – the members of which had already been declared dead so were forced to fight until that was true – is a harsh, unflinching look at war. Shigeru Mizuki, perhaps best known in the USA as the creator of Kitaro, lets nothing fall to the wayside, from starving troops and abusive officers, to “pleasure women” and malaria, to an officer singing about his junk. There’s nothing too sordid for this story, and it’s a richer experience for it. Published in 1973, it’s still relevant today. Perhaps even more so, since the pointless war in Vietnam taught the powers that be nothing, so today’s armed forces have to repeat history. The viewpoint of the Japanese soldiers in WWII isn’t one we see that often in the States, but it’s no less heartbreaking.

Part of the reason this novel is so affecting is that this story is true. Well, according to the author it’s “90% true”. Mizuki was supposed to be a part of this battalion, but he was left behind because of illness. Pointless wasting of life is devastating, yet all too often it becomes just so many tiresome statistics on the evening news that nobody really watches anymore. Onward Towards Our Noble Deaths dulls the shine of war that so many movies have painted on it, giving readers a glimpse into the nasty business of killing people for…what, exactly?

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