Thursday, January 1, 2009

Shooting War

Written by Anthony Lappe
Art by Dan Goldman

This is a terrific read. Shooting War is about Jimmy Burns, a liberal video blogger who just happens to be filming a Starbucks when it explodes from a suicide bomb. Burns video propels him into media stardom, and soon he is hired by Global, a sensationalistic 24-hour cable news channel (not to be confused with our own Global TV here in Ontario) and sent to Iraq.

This is not the Iraq of today - this is Iraq in 2011, after two years of a McCain administration. Early into his time there, Burns meets Abu Adallah, the leader of The Sword of Mohammed, a jihadist organization that is trying to create a modernist, non-secular approach to killing Americans - mostly through the use of Iranian equipment.

What follows is an exploration of warfare, in which no side is innocent or noble. Americans shoot unarmed civilians, and use robotic weapons that kill indiscriminately. Journalists report what they are told to report. Iraqi children carry suicide bombs. Dan Rather is more than a little clueless. There is nothing in this book that is implausible really, and it makes no suggestions on how things can be improved. Instead, it's an entertaining and amusing look at where things might end up (and probably would have had McCain actually been elected).

The story moves quickly, and the characters are well developed. In a lot of ways, Jimmy Burns reminds me of Matty Roth in Brian Wood's excellent series 'DMZ'. They are similar in that they are tossed into a conflict they don't understand, and are often used for their fame to promote a certain message.

The art in the book is different. Most of the backgrounds are photographs, with the central characters digitally drawn over them. In more than a few places, the characters look stiff and out of place, but in others, this method is very effective. The American soldiers with their strangely glowing face masks look amazing and terrifying at the same time.

This book comes highly recommended, especially at the relatively inexpensive price of the softcover.

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