Publisher: Image Comics
Writer: Ales Kot
Artwork: Luca Casalanguida
Colours: Heather Marie Lawrence Moore
Letters: Aditya Bidikar
Designer: Tom Muller
Production Art: Ryan Brewer
Release Date: 29th July 2020
“Vietnam, 1969. Juarez, forty years later. Three men tied by the war they left behind—on collision course with a new one.”
I love a bit of action, and whilst my war story exposure tends to lean more towards WWII or modern conflict, this new Image Comics series looked like it could tickle my fancy. One should never judge a book yadda yadda, but this one definitely pulled me in. Grim faces, carved in conflict, now old but with no softness. Still unsure quite what to expect, although having enjoying my exposure to some of Ales Kot’s previous work, I was more than happy to give this a punt.
Lost Soldiers was not an easy read for me. I’m not saying that it’s full of arcane or stilted writing (although there is a lot of lettering here), more that it took me a while to settle in; if I really ever did. This isn’t what I would typify as an action comic, although there’s a fair bit in here. Instead, this feels more like a gritty thriller. Jumping from the jungles of Vietnam in the ‘60s to the near past of the US, there’s a depth to this story hinted at in a slow burn.
Without giving too much away, the story is based around a collection of men who were thrown together by circumstance in the ‘60s on foreign soil fighting a war they didn’t necessarily understand where the threat wasn’t just the enemy passed the recon line, but also the violence amongst their comrades. Decades later, these men appear to have been unsuccessful in escaping a life of combat and battles, and have all the associated aches and pains of aging. There’s a lot to unpack here and, if you can stay the course, I think the payoff will be good.
Visually, this new series is tip top. Casalanguida gives detail where it’s needed and, combined with Moore’s, colouring, the final visual effect goes from dark and broody to chaotic and frenetic during combat flashbacks. The graphic violence is strongly flagged in the opening but no punches are pulled as the bullets start flying. Bidikar does an admirable job in lettering here as there are some pretty wordy panels. In my first reading I was under the impression that perhaps some of this could have been moved to text only panels. On a second read, the placing and effect became more apparent and some of my initial gripes fell away.
Perhaps as a Brit I don’t quite have the same resonance with the Vietnam war that seems to shape a lot of culture in the US. That being said, it’s not so much a barrier to entry as it is a layer which perhaps just doesn’t strike the same zeitgeist chords. An initially challenging but ultimately rewarding read which will hopefully evolve into an impressive package.
[PREVIEW ARTWORK – CLICK TO ENLARGE]
The writer of this piece was: Adam Brown
Adam Tweets from @brother_rooster