War Heroes #1
Writer: Mark Millar
Pencils: Tony Harris
Inks: Cliff Rathburn
Colors: J.D. Mettler
From: Image Comics
Our preview from June: here
Mark Millar is a man of hype. As a frequent visitor to his home on the web (http://forums.millarworld.tv/) I have been treated to and entertained by his shameless self-promotion and stories of his many bizarre social misadventures. Shameless self-promotion aside, one thing is abundantly clear about the man; he loves his job – with a passion. That passion is clearly on display in his newest Millarworld production, War Heroes. With a tightly paced script (that was originally an idea for his version of Ultimates 3) Millar collaborates with veteran penciler Tony Harris to create an ultimate version of America where heroes are “made” every day.
Within the space of the first six pages of War Heroes Millar adeptly sets the tone and climate of this America by utilizing current real world events and displaying them in a brutally provocative manner. Establishing an America in a protracted war with extremists, Millar creates a country run on fear by an out of control government that has limited the rights of its citizens to the point where big brother can be found on an average suburban street corner. With the war raging on and no end in sight, Millar captures the reader’s attention by creating an environment, while fictional, that is perfectly understandable from a real world perspective. By touching on a fear that is relatable, the story does a good job of quickly grabbing the reader’s interest, but it is the efforts of Harris that help to retain that attention through the remainder of an issue that is more set-up than action.
Tony Harris is a talented artist. From Starman and Ex Machina to this issue of War Heroes, Harris utilizes a clean line that emphasizes realism over exaggeration. Every panel is nicely detailed and never seems to be unintentionally overcrowded. Harris’ art captures the script with stunning detail such as a two page spread of new recruits just given the ability to fly as they leap from a plane sans parachutes; a perfectly captured moment as Harris gives the scene an authentic feel from the detailed uniforms to the varied emotions. Harris employs a photo-realistic art style, but utilizes it as more of a tool than a crutch, to create some of the most realistic scenes to be found in a comic book. While not as overly detailed as some artists, Harris skillfully portrays various locations and personalities with a great deal of proficiency and aplomb. It is this type of art that helps keep the reader engaged throughout an issue mainly composed of a lot of talking heads and exposition.
War Heroes is Millar at his best. Eschewing his usual out of date pop references and cringe-inducing street slang, Millar deftly sets into motion a series of events that are perfectly captured by Harris’ detailed and eye-catching art. Even better though, Millar leaves a lot of the political yammering out of the title and instead focuses on character and plot development.