Overview

Guerillas Volume One

Review

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Guerillas Volume One

Credits

  • Words: Brahm Revel
  • Art: Brahm Revel
  • Publisher: Oni Press
  • Price: $14.99
  • Release Date: Oct 13, 2010

As much as my editors would probably love it to be otherwise, Brahm Revel’s Guerillas isn’t a book one can just rip through once and then crank out a review. Rather, it’s one of those stories that stick with you long after you’ve finished it. Sumptuously rendered in stark black and white and intelligently related, Guerillas is a book that aspires to far more than the sum of its parts would suggest. Fortunately for me, my editors are a wise, patient lot, though I fear I’ve been pushing them of late.

Set during the height of the Vietnam War, Guerillas chronicles the misadventures of the greenest cherry to ever patrol a stretch of bush, Private John Francis Clayton, as he struggles to fit into his platoon. Disaster strikes early as the Viet Cong ambush Clayton’s unit during his first patrol. The only survivor of the vicious assault, Clayton is saved from certain death at the end of an AK-47 by a roving band of rogue top-secret simian soldiers.

Clayton is a sorry excuse for a soldier. He’s like Charlie Sheen at the beginning of Platoon; only he never gets the chance to hang with the cool kids, because all of the cool kids are dead. In Clayton, Revel provides the audience with their vehicle transporting them into his strange world of steaming, claustrophobic jungles, brutal, gory violence, and a “troop” of soldiers who give new meaning to the word. Definitely not wired for warfare, Clayton’s character is somewhat refreshing thanks to his unapologetic nature. He knows full well – better than anyone else – that he should never have followed his father’s footsteps into the military. He makes no excuses for his cowardice, his nightmares, or his ineptness.

He simply wants to go home.

Revel ties all of the disparate elements of his plot together with a deftness that is shocking for someone so new to the business. His artwork is lush and textured, with a bold, clean line. His brushwork recalls the best of classic animators such as Alex Toth, while the tone and stark visuals evoke modern underground comics – only with balls and minus the simpering, angst-ridden neuroses.

By turns philosophical, ultra-violent, and laugh-out-loud funny, Guerillas forces its audience to question their perceptions of war, scientific ethics, and what it means to be human, not to mention just what we expect of our comics these days. Not so much a satire as an experiment in the absurd that’s so far proven brilliantly successful, Guerillas is a stylish, thought-provoking, and original work of graphic storytelling that helps elevate the form to the next level.

This is a seminal work from a wonderfully talented new creator. Keep your eyes on Brahm Revel, because we’re going to be talking about this guy for years to come.

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