Monday, March 21, 2005

BATTLE HYMN #1

Having greatly enjoyed B. Clay Moore's Hawaiian Dick, I decided to ignore the chronic delays that have plagued the sequel and forget that Battle Hymn was also out of Image Comics -- home of many ADD creators -- and give it a go. Period stories appeal to me in general and Moore pulled off 1953 Hawaii to my (admittedly ignorant) eyes.

Battle Hymn #1 reminded me of the start of Supreme Power with its collecting of the archtypes -- the speedster, the ersatz Captain America, the (Bat)man of shadow, the man from the sea, the atomic man and his creator -- and their interactions with shady government types. Like the Squadron, the future members of the Watchguard are a mixed bunch: one is a showman eager for adulation, one is an arrogant ass, one is an enigma, one is a consummate professional, and one is an innocent. The are all interesting, if not all sympathetic.

The biggest difference is that because of the period in which it is set, Battle Hymn isn't tainted by post-modernism or cynicism; there's no sarcastic voice whispering knowingly from beyond the fourth wall that the duped idealists deserved what they got simply for being who they are. This is a war story in a time when wars were state affairs and Moore does not cue us to roll our eyes at the ones who are foolish enough to trust their government to do the right thing. There is nothing here that skirts the edge of mockery. In that sense, it's Supreme Power via JSA: Liberty Files/Unholy 3, which is also set in this era and carries an aura of duty and optimism in spite of a pretty respectable body count. And that's refreshing.

Jeremy Haun's pencils are lovely, especially his eye for detail and his faces; I don't remember seeing him before. Ande Parks took a break from working with Phil Hester to ink.

I'm recommending this with the full knowledge that it could be years before it will be done. Hey, Warren Ellis will finish Planetary eventually, too, right?

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