ARMAGEDDON PATROL BOOK 2 / WRITER: JOHN A. SHORT / PUBLISHER: ALCHEMY TEXTS / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
Putting super-powered people into the Vietnam War isn’t a terribly new idea. Watchmen and Wildcards are both examples that spring immediately to mind. Armageddon Patrol Book 2, however, deals solely with a band a military created super-powered humans during the conflict. Sometimes you just want a war story, and this is what Armageddon Patrol promises to deliver. The book brings together books from the indie series, previously published by Alchemy Texts in 2002. It is very much a British indie, blending gritty realism with almost cartoonish (but grim) violence and a grim but on-point sense of humour. The production values are good, though it still has that slightly rough vibe to it which makes all the more endearing. You want your gritty comics to look a little punk rock sometimes.For the most part, the writing is solid. We have a mixed team of mutants, all of whom have powers useful on the battlefield. They’re not well trained as a unit and seem to muddle through from conflict to conflict. The book at sometimes feels likes a ‘horrors of war’ tale, and others like a ‘ripping action-adventure’, as such the experience isn’t very smooth. Character development is perfunctory, which makes the more sombre moments just fall flat. Part of this is caused by space limitations; some of these stories where originally shorts, so when brought together in one collection, it appears a little mismatched.
Though violence and foul language are pretty much expected in this sort of thing, some of the dialogue choices are seemingly simply there for ‘shock’ value. It fails to shock and instead shows bad writing choices; the author is happy to take offensive and unpleasant shortcuts rather than creating a better narrative that engages the issue of racism and sexism in ‘60s America. This is a pity as the rest of the work is fun, and it mostly works as a solid war story.
The artwork is solid; Alex Patterson’s work on this book is especially fun, giving off a nice ‘dangerous jungle’ vibe throughout. The book has multiple artists, and it’s all solid stuff, and the choice to go black and white means it keeps a ‘British war comics’ feel to it. Overall Armageddon Patrol Book 2 is a solid indie book, though a little inconsistent.