Comic Book Review: "G.I. Combat #1"
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The second wave of DC Comics New 52 takes a step away from the world of superheroes and travels to the world of the supernatural in the first issue of G.I. Combat. “The War That Time Forgot” tells the story of ordinary soldiers verse dinosaurs, while “The Unknown Solider” tells the origins of the man who would become the classic one man killing machine. Written J.T. Krul, Justin Gray, and Jimmy Palmiotti, with art by Ariel Olivetti, and Dan Panosian, both of these stories takes regular soldiers and transplants them into unnatural elements and violent surroundings where only their true grit, wits and willpower can keep them alive.
“The War that Time Forgot” by Krul and Olivetti, starts in the Sea of Japan on a U.S.S. battleship. A solider, Stevens, is talking to his wife Ash (Ashley) and daughter Tori on a web cam. She asks where in the world he is. He tells her he can’t really tell her exactly where he is. She asks for a general area; he says, “The Northern Hemisphere”. Another soldier, Elliott, comes by, and says hello to Ash and Tori, before they sign off for the night. Later, at a mission briefing, it is revealed that there has been odd activity in North Korea in the last 48 hours—no activity at all; a complete blackout. Something’s jamming the satellites, and it’s a concern. S,o they’re going in to check it out. It could be a weather anomaly or some kind of new North Korean technology; they aren’t looking to start a war; they’re just looking for answers. The team (Stevens, Elliott, Sanchez and Pierce) load up on their helicopter (along with a squad of other helicopters) and go in. As they enter land there is a lightning storm. Suddenly, they run into flying dinosaurs (pterodactyls) and are attacked. They don’t know what going on, but they defend themselves from the Jurassic attacks. The pterodactyls take out a lot of the soldiers and helicopters. The team’s helicopter, Armageddon, goes down. The only survivors are Elliot and Stevens. Stevens tells Elliott that none of the equipment (GPS or phones) is working. They’ll head south through the jungle and hope to find extraction. As they exit the jungle, they come across a battle royal of the Koreans verse the dinosaurs.
“The Unknown Soldier”, by Gray, Palmiotti and Panosian, begins with a soldier writing a letter to his wife, Darla, telling her about the Unknown Soldier. They found him in Afghanistan, they thought he was dead; his face was a bloody mess. They picked him up out of the remains of a downed Humvee. There were only supposed to be five soldiers but they found six bodies, including him. He had no tags and says he has no memory. There was a fight with Taliban that was so bad, the group was pinned down and couldn’t send him out. For a whole week they were in a constant firefight with them. Then, over the course of three days the Taliban soldiers were taken down by the Unknown Solider. There were no shots fired on the fourth day. He had singlehandedly taken them all down. A week later, they found a Taliban rat hole and he kill them all and found a million dollars in heroin. Everything was caught on his helmet cam. Because of his heroism, the big brass wanted to talk to him. Colonel Karl Benson interviewed the Unknown Soldier. He knows he has amnesia, but his body language tells Benson that he’s not a U.S. solider. He claims he’s American. The colonel tells him to let them scan his hand (fingerprints); that should help them ascertain his identity. He agrees, and afterwards, the colonel asks him how he got there:
In 2005, he and his wife and two children were visiting London. His family took the London Tube while he went to a business meeting. The tube was bombed by terrorists and his family was killed. He tried to join the U.S. military, but because he’d attempted suicide twice in six months, they wouldn’t accept his application to join the armed services.
In 2007, he flew to South Africa to meet an independent contradictor to be trained for combat and become a solider of fortune.
In 2012, in Afghanistan he was with a deployment U.S. troop under the guise of a reporter without a cameraman. They were attacked by the Taliban. They were hit with an RPG and everyone is killed but him. He managed to kill the Taliban attackers before passing out. He was later found by other U.S. troops.
Colonel Benson tells him that he’s a “suicidal murder machine looking to avenge his family by any means necessary.” He informs him that no matter how many zealots he kills, his family isn’t coming back. But there is a way to help the fight: the intelligence community in Washington wants to recruit him for more covert missions.
The “G.I. Combat” series is a departure from the normal DCU superhero-powered fare. Interestingly, the issue lacks the normal large main story with a small backup story. Both stories, “The War That Time Forgot” and “The unknown Solider” are equal in length. The issue is more of an anthology; two stories for the price of one. This is the 3rd volume of G.I. Combat; the first going all the way back to 1952 with stories revolving around the WWII adventure of Sgt. Rock. Just like those old issues, these new ones are about average heroes fighting in wars and dealing with unusual (and sometimes unnatural) circumstances. “The War that Time Forgot” is a classic tale of Modern Man vs. Prehistoric Monster. “The Unknown Solider” is an updated origin story for the classic character, which incorporates the modern 21st battlefield. It is refreshing to have comic book by DC that don’t always have super powered villains or heroes. Both of these stories are captivating and it will be interesting to see where they go in issue 2.