Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Graveyard of Empires #4

Written by Mark Sable
Art by Paul Azaceta

It's been a long while since we last saw an issue of Graveyard of Empires, but the 'zombies in Afghanistan' series has finally reached its conclusion, and it's a decent comic, even if it suffers from being maybe a little too ambitious.

To recap the series, a group of soldiers at an isolated forward operating base in Afghanistan near the Pakistan border are shown as coming under regular fire from insurgents and Taliban operatives.  They discover that a local doctor is installing suicide bombs right inside peoples' torsos.  While dealing with all of that, zombies attack, forcing the soldiers to work with the insurgents.  Over a few issues, most of the cast gets killed off, and we learn that a disreputable American military contractor (because are there any other kind?) have something to do with all of this.

This issue opens with a few scenes of Afghani resistance over the centuries, as various invaders and outsiders are shown taking control of a mountain fortress, which is now the base of operations for those contractors.  They have something to do with this whole zombie thing, and the few surviving characters are either being held captive by them, or are fleeing the area.  It's not long before a big fight happens, bringing the book to its close.

In the back matter, writer Mark Sable mentions how this was originally going to be a three-issue series that kept growing.  I think it may have worked even better as a five or six issue comic, as Sable's early attempts at character building (which made the first two issues excellent reads) get tossed out the window towards the end, and the pacing feels pretty rushed.  By setting this story in such an interesting location, and making reference to its long history of resistance to foreign invasion, Sable has opened a door that shouldn't just be opened a crack.  I would have liked to have seen a little more meat in this book in the last two issues.

Paul Azaceta's art is always great, but I did have some problems keeping track of who the different characters were.  I know it can be difficult to draw various characters in identical clothing so that they are distinct, but it did take away from my enjoyment of the story a little here.  Still, this is an interesting series, and I'd rather read something that is trying something new and shooting a little short of the mark than yet another retread of something I've been reading since I was twelve years old.

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