DC decided to cancel two of its war genre books that launched with the New 52 at issue #8. Those books were Men of War, a by the books tale of soldiers living in a world with superhumans and Blackhawks, a kind of DC version of G.I. Joe. These were consistently the two lowest selling books of the New 52 and received lukewarm reviews, so it’s not very surprising that they got the axe. What is kind of surprising is that DC decided to launch a new war book as part of its second wave. This time the book will revive three DC war concepts, the main feature being “The War That Time Forgot” with rotating stories “The Unknown Soldier” and “The Haunted Tank.” I really admire taking chances with lesser known concepts and genres outside of super-heroics. Unfortunately, this book sucks, and that is all. (Actually there’s more, read on).
First of all, I’ll only be able to review the War that Time Forgot and Unknown Soldier as the Haunted Tank wont show up until issue #2. Let’s start with WtTF (WTF? haha). The basic concept of this story is that a group of black ops type soldiers get attacked by dinosaurs and crash-land on an island and find more dinosaurs. Look, I like dinosaurs as much as the next guy, but if you’re going to use such a basic concept as that you’re going to have to put something into it. This was a paint by numbers story. I’m not saying that a book has to have earth shattering life changing depth, I mean I loved O.M.A.C. and its story was pretty one ply. The difference between O.M.A.C. and this is that O.M.A.C. was fun, it didn’t take itself seriously, and it really got you invested in the characters. This story is the opposite of that. The art by Ariel Olivetti is colorful and somewhat realistic, but it just comes off as bland to me. There’s a ton of different ways this story could unfold and a lot of them might actually be interesting, but I have no wish to stick around. I feel bad for writer J.T. Krul, a writer who started working at DC around the same time I started reading monthly issues. The first book I read by him was his Titans tie-in issue for Blackest Night, and I liked it. DC touted Krul as a name to look out for, but since then he’s been stuck with second and third string assignments and thankless tasks like picking up the pieces from critical messes like Justice League: Cry for Justice. The guy isn’t a bad writer, as his short run on Teen Titans was well received. It seems to me that he just can’t seem to catch a break.
The Unknown Soldier is a DC concept that recently found strong critical praise as an ongoing series under the Vertigo imprint. I’ve never read the series, so I don’t know how it compares to this incarnation but I can only imagine that it is quite different. It turns out this Unknown Soldier was some sort of businessman turned mercenary after his family died in a train bombing. Now he’s bringing cold, hard, violent justice to the Middle East. Politics and views on war aside, I don’t really think this is a concept I can really get behind. I’m surprised, as I always hear really great things about Jimmy Palmiotti’s work, but this story also came off as generic. The one shining part of the whole book in my opinion was Dan Panosian’s art.
Overall I think both of these stories were hurt by decreased page counts. I can only wonder if either concept would fare better if they weren’t sharing a book. I would love for this book to find an audience and wish the creative team the best. I believe there are great stories waiting to be told here, this first issue just game me little indication that they are coming.