No, it’s not the 151st infantry, but it is the 151st reason to love comics. Archive is here. Updated through yesterday!
War Comics Week shines the spotlight on one of the best mini-series of the past decade.
151. The Other Side
The Other Side is the most recently published comic found in War Week, as it just wrapped up earlier this year. In fact, the trade paperback collection came out last week. My, what an apt time to bring it up! Heh.
As I said, it’s one of the best mini-series– heck, probably one of the best comics, period– to hit the shelves in the last ten years (it’s also the only comic book series I’ve seen that has a Myspace page, but then, I tend to avoid that place, so I can’t say I’m an expert on the subject). As the story goes, Vertigo editor Will Dennis was kind enough to read a script sent in by relative comics neophyte Jason Aaron (cousin of the late Gustav Hasford, who wrote the novel upon which the film Full Metal Jacket was based). He liked it, and hey, they decided to publish it. So yeah, it is possible to get a book published by the Big Two on sheer quality alone!
The Other Side chronicles the military career of two young men. One of them is Bill Everette, American draftee and private. The other one is Vo Binh Dai, a Vietnamese soldier who seeks to do his country proud. Both of them begin to lose touch with reality, as Everette hallucinates frightening, shuffling corpses, and Vo Dai comes in contact with spirits and dragons. The story doesn’t seek to glorify war; it shows its true horrors, depicts war as the terrifying hell that it is. It’s also a balanced portrayal, fully fleshing out the characters on either side of the conflict. It’s a story about fear, survival, determination, victory, and madness.
The art, by one of my favorites, Cameron Stewart, is gorgeous. He poured all of his tremendous skill into the book, and thoroughly researched it, even traveling to Vietnam to do so! That’s a dedicated artist for you. The beautiful inks really bring the pages to life. I’m reminded a bit of Michael Golden’s ‘Nam with a hint of Aparo, but it’s pure Cameron Stewart goodness. He also gave us one of my favorite covers of the year:
The art explodes into vivid life under Stewart’s linework and Dave McCaig’s colors. Some pages simply take my breath away, such as the scene where a butterfly flutters into the middle of a battle, or where Vo Dai meets the dragon, or where the series reaches its bloody climax– but I’m not going to spoil it by revealing those moments to you now. You’ll have to buy the book. Yes yes, I’m evil. I am, however, going to provide you with two more exquisite pages, so don’t worry. My scans can’t do them true justice, though.
The Other Side is brilliantly crafted by a fine bunch of creators (I haven’t mentioned the lettering by Pat Brosseau yet, but rest assured, it’s also excellent). Because I love you guys so much, here’s a link to where you can buy it on Amazon. Once you emerge on the other side of the Other Side, you’ll have read a fantastic piece of comics literature.
Also, be sure to read this piece on Vietnam War comics that the Other Side author himself, Jason Aaron, wrote for this very blog! And be sure to visit his own blog here. To find Cameron Stewart on the web, scope out the links in Cam’s own Reason entry.