Iron, Or The War After


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Iron, Or The War After


  • Words: S.M. Vidaurri
  • Art: S.M. Vidaurri
  • Publisher: Archaia Comics
  • Price: $19.99
  • Release Date: Dec 4, 2012

Gorgeous watercolor paintings and a heartfelt story in the vein of classic animal stories make way for an all too human tale in S.M. Vidaurri’s Iron, Or The War After.

It’s Regime versus Resistance after a many-years war. James Hardin, the rabbit of the Resistance, steals secret documents that he plans to use against the Regime. However, this action begins a chain reaction that will ultimately devastate the lives of players and spectators of both sides before we discover who the real heroes and traitors are, and what the consequences of these after-war actions mean for those the war after has impacted in irreparable ways.

The debut book by writer/artist S.M. Vidaurri reads much more swiftly than its 152 pages suggest, with every panel being its own watercolor wonderland that pulls us into this cold world where animals walk the earth with all-too-human attributes like patriotism, cowardice, and conscience all trying to balance themselves on a rickety scale of right and wrong.

The primary colors Vidaurri uses throughout the book are black and white, with shades of gray and a metallic blue, which all add to the cold, wintry feeling of this world he’s created. The color red, mainly in the form of a lone cardinal –– the only animal that is an animal –– shines forth throughout the book, but very sparsely; we see red in the cardinal, but also at one other time as blood, the only other truly neutral party in this story after the war. It adds to the image a somewhat jarring quality, but at once we understand Vidaurri’s powerful metaphor of the blood that’s been shed throughout the war and beyond it, too.

There is also a poignant tree metaphor that runs throughout Iron. In many of the panels, black naked branches stretch out in various directions, held down by falling snow. In an interrogation scene with the Regime’s tiger Captain Engel, Giles Raeburn, the goat being held captive, expounds on the true, oftentimes misunderstood nature of strength. With simple words we come to fully understand the truth about this war after and about human beings, as well –– that sometimes the most cowardly of lions have a surplus of inner strength that will one day show itself when needed most.

While reading this wonderful book, I couldn’t help but be reminded of all the other graphic novels of this sort that have left indelible impressions –– namely Maus –– as well as classic literature like Animal Farm, Elie Wiesel’s unforgettable Night, and All Quiet on the Western Front, which Vidaurri admits fueled much of the creation of his own book. Iron, Or The War After reads with as much poignancy and humanity as these predecessors, which is a true testament to Vidaurri’s understanding of the human condition, brought to life in Orwellian fashion through the watercolor work of a master visual storyteller.

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