Saturday, August 27, 2011

Graveyards of Empire #2

Written by Mark Sable
Art by Paul Azaceta

I like zombie comics (when they are well written).  I love war comics.  So, putting the two together obviously grabbed my attention, just as it has in '68, the Vietnam War zombie comic also being published by Image right now.  And as much as I'm enjoying that title, I think this one is far superior to it.

I have a few reasons for saying this.  To begin with, I've been following Paul Azaceta's career since he drew Mark Sable's Grounded a few years ago, and I feel that these two work particularly well together.  The main reason why I'm enjoying this book so much though, has to do with its portrayal of American involvement in Afghanistan.  There are a number of flashbacks in this book that show an older, widowed farmer and his family having to deal with successive waves of Taliban, American army, and American military contractors, all trying to influence his actions.

The Taliban force him to grow opium, and threaten his children.  The Americans try to buy him off while an Afghan police officer threatens his son.  Later, the military contractors burn his crops, leaving him destitute, and in danger of Taliban reprisal.  It's clear that, once again, it's impossible to win 'hearts and minds' without understanding the local conditions.  I love that no one is bothering the members of Karzai's tribe who are also growing poppies in the next field.

In the present, the American FOB is under attack from a group of Afghan zombies.  They repel the attack, but are soon faced with a larger group approaching, with the locals stuck between them.  Sable handles the distrust between these groups, and the on-going cultural misunderstandings beautifully, adding tension and intrigue to a story that could easily just be a repeat of genre tropes.  It's good stuff.

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