I’m not sure whose idea it was to resurrect the 1950s series “Star Spangled War Stories,” but one can’t help but feel like this is a book that’s destined to failure simply because of its unwieldy title. That’s a real shame, because Jimmy Palmiotti, Justin Gray and Scott Hampton’s “Star-Spangled War Stories Featuring G.I. Zombie” #2 is surprisingly fun.
“Star-Spangled War Stories Featuring G.I. Zombie” #2 picks up right where the first installment left off, with Carmen infiltrating the anti-government compound while Jared goes for a more frontal attack. It’s a good balance of covert and overt, and while Carmen was the more memorable character in the first issue, it’s nice to see our titular character start getting a little more background as we learn about his capabilities and his state of mind. He’s a slightly chilling and cold protagonist — I’m not sure that readers will necessarily warm to him, per se — but then again, that’s where the extremely likable Carmen comes in. The two of them working together has a lot of potential, almost as a good cop/bad cop pairing.
What’s a real pleasure, though, is getting Hampton’s art on a monthly basis. I’ve been a fan of his for many years, and every time he wanders back into comic books, it’s reason to celebrate. We aren’t getting full watercolors here (I can’t imagine that being possible to produce on a monthly schedule), but this is a good reminder that his more traditional pencil/inks/colors combination still looks sharp. He’s good with body language; just look at Carmen’s pose when she’s asking if this is a job interview or a political rally and how she still exudes confidence while questioning someone at the same time. A lot of how fun Carmen is comes from that strong presence that she radiates from panel to panel, and that’s in no small part thanks to Hampton. As she walks into each scene, you get an instant sense that she’s in complete control of the situation, with Hampton drawing her with a strong posture, determined look, and a 1000-watt smile.
When Hampton draws Jared, I like how all of the bright colors are stripped away. Jared hiding in the back of the house as the scientists walk by is great; his pale skin covered with shadows that match the dark gray walls, with the old bannisters and cracked plaster giving you an instant feel for the house and how well Jared blends into its structure. This is a striking looking book, and it’s great to see someone who eschews any sort of house style while still drawing everything consistently and well.
“Star-Spangled War Stories Featuring G.I. Zombie” #2 is a good book, but I fear that it won’t be around for long. (Why it wasn’t just titled “G.I. Zombie” is beyond me; I can’t help but think sales would have been higher automatically.) This is a title that could use some strong word of mouth; it’s well-written, the art is great, and it has a sense of humor while still proving to be intense. Take a look for yourself, and you might just find yourself hooked too.