Writer: Paul Allor
Artist: Paul Tucker
Release Date: 7th October 2015
Set against the backdrop of the Vietnam War, marine Eugene Smith, is paired with local Vietnamese police officer Bao to investigate the murder of one of his friends, just as the notoriously brutal ‘Tet Offensive’ breaks out. However, rather than the conflict itself, Eugene is far more concerned about the wellbeing of his fiancée Ha, and even as the casualties mount up on both sides, all he can think about is her safety.
Allor gets down and dirty here, ramping up the brutal realities of war and providing a truly memorable issue. As Eugene finds himself pinned down by gunfire, his present-day narration underpins the emotion of the story as he desperately tries to make his way to Ha. The violence and pain is real, and the risks are high. Nothing is glossed over here, with Allor taking us right down into the trenches as the blood and bullets start flying.
If Allor is down in the trenches with his storytelling approach, then Paul Tucker is right there alongside him with his rough, scratchy artwork. There’s a straightforwardness to his style that might not necessarily work for a lot of series, but which fits Tet like a glove. This isn’t a book that needs unnecessary detail or a glossy, sanistied approach, and Allor’s rough-and-ready approach really enhances the brutality of the story, while still managing to capture the emotion of the main characters. His style is almost reminiscent of the classic ‘Boys Own’ adventure comics at times, with heavy inks and a sense of grit and steely determination throughout.
While the scale of the conflict is grand, Tet remains a tightly focused and deeply intimate story. The Vietnam War is only shown in brief snapshots, with the bulk of the narrative based around Eugene’s internal conflict and relationship and concern for Ha, a relationship which – based on the flash-forward sections of this issue – may not necessarily have a happy ending.
More of a compelling character study than a quote-unquote ‘war comic’, Tet does a fantastic job in its second issue of capitalising on the momentum of its first, drawing us deeper into the life of Eugene Smith and providing a chillingly honest recreation of one of the most brutal conflicts in modern history.
[Click to Enlarge]