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May 07, 2007


Greg Morrow

I read #2 yesterday, after reading your post.

There is nothing particularly wrong with it (aside from the fact that it shouldn't have been serialized), and much that is right. It's merely not the book for me.

One important factor in that is that I'm not yet eager to laugh, even morbidly, at the endless American clusterfuck that is the Global War on Terror.


Speaking of laughing about clusterfucks, here's an exercise for someone with a stronger stomach than me: watch this new comedy movie where Larry the Cable Guy and one of the other Blue Collar comedians join the army and think they're getting sent to Iraq. I suspect, and I will never, ever seek to confirm this, that the movie and its reception will be a case of "Only 'rednecks' are allowed to make fun of the war they started and supported." ('Rednecks' placed in sneer quotes since Larry the Cable Guy is about as authentically Southern and working class as Dubya himself.) If you try to stop the war you're supporting al Qaeda, but if you're responsible for getting us into it then you're allowed to use it as a backdrop for dick, fart, and gay jokes.

Of course, since the characters apparently end up in Mexico--hey, it's funny to talk about invading them!--I doubt there'll be much in the way of laughing at Iraq, just 90 tedious, mirth-free minutes of cowardly dancing around the war Dubya built and the horrible injustices he has caused.

Anyway, against such toothless pseudosatire, Veitch comes off pretty well even if he, too, is pulling punches. (Some of which he has to pull--I don't think I'd be able to laugh at a book filled with prisoner pyramids or IEDs either.)

(aside from the fact that it shouldn't have been serialized)

I was wondering about that myself. Army@Love has the large, diverse cast of a graphic novel, and the potential for the expansive, richly realized cultural settings of a graphic novel, yet it's so clearly not a graphic novel. Little missteps like the attempt to conceal the retreats suggest that the series isn't fully-formed yet--I don't get the sense that the whole world was worked out before the first panel was drawn that I get from the best graphic novels (even ones that were originally serialized, like Luther Arkwright).

So maybe it would have been a better end product if Veitch had conceived it as a graphic novel or series of graphic novels and ironed out all the kinks before publication. But this is incontrovertibly a series, and it reads like a series--not just in the way it's still creating itself on the fly but the way each episode thus far has told a complete story while also advancing the ongoing plots. That can be a compelling structure when it's done well, and I'm glad mature comics haven't fully abandoned the series format.

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