Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The 'Nam Volume 2

Written by Doug Murray
Art by Michael Golden and John Beatty, with Wayne Vansant

I never read this title when it originally came out - I was 12 when the comics it reproduces were first published, and much more interested in super hero books back then. I recently found this volume, which collects issues 5-9 at a used book store for only $2, so I figured it was worth picking up.

These are some strange comics. I don't know if Murray had written in comics before or since, and his style of storytelling is quite different from what I'm used to. He tends to tell parallel stories that eventually meet up at some point - the reader has to do a lot of work to keep up with it though. This happens in both the first story, and in the last.

The third part of the book is an interesting look into the history of Vietnam, and a VC deserter who is now fighting for the American army.

Three of the four chapters of this book are illustrated by the legendary Michael Golden, but I'm not sure that I would have recognized his work here. He has a very loose, cartoonish style, and many of his panels are tight close-ups on big jawed Americans. I found this to be a bizarre choice - you can't always figure out what is going on in confusing battle scenes, although it does make the tunnel scenes even more claustrophobic.

The best part of the book is a short story called "Tunnel Rat" at the end of this volume. In this, we see a bit of the Golden I remember from the Micronauts in a beautiful page showing American planes dropping leaflets on rice paddies while soldiers stand on a Vulcan and demolish some foliage.

I wish Marvel would publish an Essential 'Nam. The book would look good in black and white, and I would enjoy reading it. I'm reading Denis Johnson's 'Tree of Smoke' right now, and this was a good companion to it.

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