One Mad Dog

[Unknown Soldier Vol. 3: Dry Season] (Joshua Dysart, Alberto Ponticelli)
January 25, 2013, 2:29 pm
Filed under: 8 Stars, Alberto Ponticelli, Joshua Dysart, Unknown Soldier

“Dry Season” collects issues #15-20 of the Vertigo “Unknown Soldier series. In this volume, Moses tries to settle in an IDP camp in hopes of capturing some sense of his past but his brutal alter ego has a different plan. This volume plays quite heavily on the “Jekyll and Hyde” nature of Moses and his attempts to subdue his darker side.

Like the other two Unknown Soldier collections, “Dry Season” is a brutal and violent book set in the real world of Ugandan poverty and oppression. It does an excellent job of portraying man’s lack of humanity to his fellow man and also the absolute desperation of the “Dry Season”. The book starts off as a sort of crime thriller and slowly builds up to a climatic and very destructive conclusion. I particularly enjoyed the unraveling of Moses character and the mystic aspects of this book.

Ponticelli’s artwork just seems to keep on getting better and better and the combination of great colors and dramatic subject matter make this a real pleasure to look at. He does an excellent job of capturing on paper the horrors of living in an IDP camp in a world riddled with corruption.

Book 3 in the unknown soldier series is recommended for people who enjoy action thrillers with strong political overtones that are based on real life events. If you liked the first two novels you should like this one too. It has the added bonus of some real world background material on the setting of the book.[ISBN-13: 978-1401228552]. 8/10

[Unknown Soldier Vol. 2: Easy Kill] – (Joshua Dysart, Alberto Ponticelli, Pat Masioni)
February 17, 2011, 8:35 am
Filed under: 8 Stars, Alberto Ponticelli, Joshua Dysart, Unknown Soldier

“Unknown Soldier – Easy Kill” collects “Unknown Soldier” #7 to #14 and contains a main story arc called “Easy Kill” and a one shot called “The way Home”. In “Easy Kill” , Moses is led to a militant cell by the dead beat CIA guy and drawn into a plot to kill a Hollywood actress making charity visits to the country. In “The Way Home” , Moses guides an escaped child soldier named Paul back to his home village where he encounters an unexpected reaction.

Just like the first Unknown Soldier volume, this collection is a hard hitting political thriller set against the unbelievably hostile backdrop of  Northern Uganda. The action is brutal and the atrocities and violations of human rights remain even more shocking because you know the book is based on real facts. In “Easy Kill” the books main character, Moses, continues on his own personal crusade against the evil and corrupt forces in his homeland whilst trying to control his own inner demon.  His crusade is complicated by the presence of his wife and ex fiancée especially when he is forced to try to prevent an assassination at a charity dinner in honor of his own death.  Moses begrudgingly teams up with rogue CIA agent in “Easy Kill” and the agents character is fleshed out considerably in this volume as he becomes a key part of the story.

I really enjoyed both arcs in this book and found them to be just as good and just as shocking as the first volume. “Easy Kill” does jump around a lot in time near the beginning which can make for a very confusing read. This may put some people off but if you persevere through this lack of continuity you are rewarded by an excellent action adventure.  There is also a great background article at the back of the book that gives a real timeline of the events in Uganda and its surrounding neighbors. This article really helps to hammer home the reality of the atrocities portrayed in unknown soldier.

I think that Ponticelli’s artwork stepped up a notch in the second volume and he seemed to put a lot more detail into the backdrops. I really enjoyed his art and this was in no doubt helped along by the excellent choice of color. The guest artist Pat Masioni illustrated the one shot “The way Home” and his artwork and style was remarkably similar to Ponticelli, so much so that I didn’t realize they had changed artists until I read the cover.

This book is strongly recommended especially if you enjoy action thrillers with strong political overtones based on real life events. [ISBN-13: 978-1401226008]. 8/10

[Unknown Soldier Vol. 1: Haunted House] – (Joshua Dysart, Alberto Ponticelli)
February 13, 2011, 9:20 am
Filed under: 8 Stars, Alberto Ponticelli, Joshua Dysart, Unknown Soldier

Volume 1 collects “Unknown Soldier” issues #1 to#6. The book is set in Northern Uganda In 2002, although there are lots of flashbacks to other times and places. It tells the story of Moses Lwanga who is a Ugandan doctor that was trained in the USA but has returned home to help his people.  What he finds is a kind of hell on earth with evil corruption and child soldiers exacting terrible acts upon each other.  One day he is drawn into a fight with some rebels and a fighting machine is wakened inside him.  Our bandaged hero Moses then sets off on a one man crusade against the evils that poison his land.

Unknown soldier is a very violent and realistic book. It gives a true sense of the utter desperation people must feel for the state of these worn torn provinces in Africa. It reminded me very much of “Blood Diamond” in terms of the shock of what the rebels were doing to children but turned up a notch. I really enjoyed the book  and the author certainly doesn’t hold back on the facts.

The artwork is great to look at and certainly portrays the horror and action well. It also has a really good color pallete that conveys the backdrops of Uganda admirably. Ponticelli’s character drawings are quite simplistic and have his own unique style that seems to fit the subject matter very well. They sometimes reminded  me of the sort of figures that were prevalent on 10th century tapestries.

The book is printed on slightly better than average “Vertigo” paper stock and weighs in around 140 pages. Haunted House is a shocking book that has been written with much passion but it certainly wont appeal to everyone. [ISBN-13: 978-1401223113]. 8/10