Thursday, December 24, 2009

Unknown Soldier #15

Written by Joshua Dysart
Art by Alberto Ponticelli

The first thing that hit me with the new issue of Unknown Soldier (okay, after the gorgeous Dave Johnson cover) was the new approach to colouring by Oscar Celestini. Ponticelli, the book's usual artist, has returned after a two-issue hiatus, and his work has never looked better, as Celestini is using a new digital technique - or Ponticelli is inking his own work differently - I'm not sure what is being done, only that I really like it.

The story this month is excellent as well. Moses has stayed in the camp Paul took him to. He's not staying with the boy, as he wants to 'normalize' his life, but he's in contact with him, and when rebels mysteriously raid the camp's medical supplies, Moses sends Paul to investigate on his behalf. With the events of the last couple of pages, it would seem that this new arc is a bit of a mystery story, set within the context of the Ugandan war.

Dysart's script continues to score in all areas. Moses is trying to make a new start for himself, after last month's ritual, but can still feel 'the voice' inside of himself. The camp doctor, however, neither likes nor trusts him, although Moses can't drag himself away from the man - he even follows him at times, imagining that he is him. It is clear that Moses has not reconciled himself to what has happened to him, and you can see his longing to return to his old life.

What really makes this comic great though, is the way that Dysart weaves in the reality of early '00's Uganda. The life of the camp residents is treated with dignity and realism, reminding me of much of Dave Egger's incredible book "What is the What?". Paul's aunt (?) goes about her business of raising her grandchild, but when that infant dies, her reaction is quite informative of Acholi superstitions and beliefs.

This comic really is unique, and deserves much more attention (and sales) than it has been receiving.

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