Star Spangled War Stories is shaping up to be a great series. If you are in the mood for a CIA version of the Walking Dead comic with the artistic style of A Scanner Darkly, this is a good place to start.
In Star Spangled War Stories #02 Carmen infiltrates Duke’s headquarters where he has just acquired a mysterious substance referred to as “black ice”, from turncoat CIA scientists Valerie Watkins and Marcos. Jared (GI Zombie) follows with less subtle methods, stealthily interrogating and taking out guards, before launching into all out war, and tearing Duke’s terrorist army apart. CIA reinforcements are called in and Duke’s army is taken down, but not before he gets off a shot with one of his guided missiles with a payload of black ice. GI Zombie manages to hop aboard the missile, and brings it down before it can reach its destination of Washington, but it touches down in a town called Sutterville Tennessee.
While it might bug some people, I am a sucker for fan service. I loved all the pop culture references in this issue. I am not 100% sure this was intentional, but I thought the Indiana Jones, nuke the fridge moment with GI Zombie was pretty funny. There was also a moment when GI Zombie was defending a house against a hoard of humans, and he made a “Dawn of the Undead” crack, and Star Spangled War Stories #02 even ended with a Dr. Strangelove rocket riding sequence.
The art was technically pretty good. I am not the biggest fan of the drug haze artistic style of Scanner Darkly, but this comic executes it pretty well. My favourite sequence was when GI Zombie was threatening to eat one of the guards and you really believed the fear in his eyes.
The overall narrative was pretty fun. Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray really wrote a story that manages to keep up the action, while maintaining its humour. Comics that have no bearing on the overall story line of a series drive me crazy, and this issue was full of important plot points. We learned duke’s motivation, GI Zombie got to show off some new powers, and it ended with a great cliffhanger.
This issue suffered from some poor artistic choices by artist and colorist Scott Hampton. The character design and background was a bit muddy but passable. The issue is, if you are going to have a man eating zombie as your protagonist you should making it darker and more gritty. The light tones just look out of place when you are watching someone getting tortured or eaten. This series is starting to look like something out of Dukes of Hazzard.
The writing in this issue was way better than the art, but Star Spangled War Stories #02 is definitely worth a read. The characters are believable and the plot moves along well. I don’t know if this is going to be the best issue in this series, but Star Spangled War Stories is definitely out to a good start.