Publisher: IDW Publishing/Comics Experience
Writer: Paul Allor
Artist: Paul Tucker
Release Date: 2nd December, 2015
Perhaps the most striking aspect of Tet – the debut offering from IDW Publishing and Comics Experience’s new collaborative partnership – thus far has been the intimacy of the story. For a series that uses one of the one of the most brutally violent conflicts in modern warfare as its backdrop, our attention remains firmly fixed on our three protagonists; Marine Eugene Smith, his partner and National Police Officer Nguyen Bao, and Smith’s former fiancée Ha, now married to Bao in the present day.
With the mystery of the murder on the eve of the Tet Offensive solved in the previous issue, this issue sees Eugene attempting to gain some semblance of closure, desperate for answers about just how Bao and Ha wound up together. However, as Eugene discovers, pain – a recurring theme for this series – is all relative, and no matter how badly you think you’re hurting, there’s always someone else who is hurting more; and hell, if you give it enough time, that person may even be you.
Paul Tucker’s murky, claustrophobic visuals are filled with uncomfortable close-ups and an absolutely sublime use of colour to echo the mood and the tension of each scene. Polished they aren’t, and occasionally it can be a little confusing and disorienting trying to discern exactly what’s going on. But do you know what? It just flat-out works for a title like this, painting a thick, visceral picture, not only of the war-torn streets of Vietnam, but of Eugene’s life as a whole.
The whole story boils down to one seven-word denouement from Ha, putting a whole new context to the pain experienced by Eugene to this point. This is a man who took a bullet, literally, for the woman he loved, and to see his story come to a conclusion like this is harrowing, to say the least. This isn’t a happy ending, nor is it meant to be. Love, like war, is often cruel and unforgiving, and that’s something writer Paul Allor hammers home in this absolute gut-punch of a finale.
Call it a hard-boiled crime thriller, call it a tragic romance, call it a war story – whatever you call it, Tet is a title that is going to resonate with you long after you’ve turned the final page. Gritty, engaging and filled with an almost uncomfortable level of realism, this is a series that comes highly, highly recommended.
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