Tom Waltz and Casey Maloney's Children of the Grave, which originally was released by Shooting Star, is being collected this August by IDW. The ordering code in Previews isÂ JUNE063212, so if you give that code to your local retailer before the end of the month, you can guarantee yourselves a copy. Now, the question is, should you WANT to reserve a copy?
First off, pretty neat Dan Brereton cover, eh?
The question would basically be answered based on what kind of premium you place upon effective military portrayals and effective use of horror. Waltz shines in these categories, and artist Maloney stands out as well in helping Waltz achieve his goals.
Just check out this opening scene, where three soldiers are sent to find out if a ruthless terrorist has, in fact, been killing the children of his enemies.
Look at that beautiful, for lack of a better word, cinematography. Forebodding, ominous and gripping. Very effective writing and art.
The book is less your speed if you're looking for some great characterizations or dialogue. The main characters in Children of the Grave come right out of central casting. A hispanic guy from the barrio who peppers his speech with spanish words (he says pendejo, like, at least three zillion times...give or take a few zillion). A black guy from Motown who specializes in bladed weapons (One cool point for the name of the character who specialized in bladed weapons in The Guns of Navarone and the name of the character who specialized in bladed weapons in The Magnificent Seven). The Osama Bin Laden character they've been tasked to kill (after they find the graves). And the leader? Okay, he doesn't necessarily fit any stereotype.
In any event, the characters are fairly bland, and the deep emotional trauma they are all dealing with is fairly shallow as well.
However, I think Waltz gives us such interesting surface horror that it is not as important that the characters below the surface are engaging. You need engaging characterizations if the main plot is shaky - here, I think the main plot is solid.
The plot is that the graves of all the murdered children are empty, and they come to the leader of the soldiers as ghosts to gain his help at getting revenge upon the man who killed them, the same Osama Bin Laden-type guy that the soldiers are there to kill.
That's a solid foundation, and Waltz nails all the military lingo and the style. It is very effective.
I also enjoyed the way that the other two soldiers cannot understand what the heck their leader is doing (as he is basing their plans on what ghost children are telling him). The way they treat their leader is pretty funny, as they slowly turn on him, until they are enlightened. Meanwhile, the ghost children are having a whole different effect on the bad guy, who thinks they are a sign that he has to REALLY wipe out his enemies.
So yeah, Children of the Grave has great art, a solid story, some generic characters and a spooky environment. I think you can figure out if that's your speed.
JUNE063212, from IDW.