Sunday, December 2, 2012


Written by Eric Trautmann and Brandon Jerwa
Art by Steve Lieber

America's involvement in Iraq is starting to provide as rich a literary and filmic tradition as the Vietnam War did, as Americans come to grips with the extent of the damage their actions in that far-off country caused both places.  Among the more worthy of the explorations I've enjoyed of that war is Shooters, a graphic novel that explores the effects Iraq had on one soldier.

Terry Glass was a Chief Warrant Officer until the day that a friendly fire incident wiped out most of his troops and ended his war.  Back home, he had great difficulty adjusting to life with his wife and daughter, especially given that the military was hiding the truth about the incident, and that his soldiers were not being formally recognized for their sacrifice.

The book is a solid study of the effects of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder on soldiers who never quite manage to reconcile their military life with their civilian one.  Eric Trautmann and Brandon Jerwa capture the irrational rages that grip Terry, and the crushing apathy that keeps him from holding down a successful job, or keeping his marriage together.  Eventually, Terry returns to the only world he feels comfortable in, but as a private contractor.  Now he's still an outsider, despite being involved in military operations.

This book is pretty gripping.  The reader feels for Terry and his situation; his desire to make things right is palpable, but he's just not capable of pulling it off in a meaningful way.  I felt that the writers really captured the dilemma that a lot of former soldiers go through, and that they didn't need to sensationalize things to make it feel dramatic.  I'm not sure how I feel about the confrontation that ends the book though; it feels a little too neat and predictable.

Steve Lieber is just the right kind of artist for this kind of thing.  He's proven himself a capable artist for military-based action, but he also excels at portraying quiet human moments.  It's rare these days for Vertigo to produce original graphic novels (or, increasingly, much of anything else), and I really wish they would create more work of this caliber.


Eric Trautmann said...

Thanks for the kind words; they're very much appreciated.

As for the ending: I did war with that, but I've heard so many stories from soldiers about odd chance meetings they've had with people in wartime -- fighting alongside the grade school bully they'd not seen in over a decade, that sort of thing -- I elected to use it.

As an odd aside: the intro to the book mentions that my brother-in-law died protecting a diplomat, but our family never found out who.

When the book came out, my wife's eldest brother called to congratulate us, and mentioned that he bumped into one of the guys who was being protected by Dave and his team. Where? On vacation in France, in a bed and breakfast.

The military can be a deceptively small world sometimes.



thingslikei said...

Thanks for responding Eric. I appreciate your comments, and have always been a fan of your work (I always felt that Checkmate should have been yours after Greg Rucka left).

I look forward to seeing what you do next.