Overview

The Expendables #1

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The Expendables #1

Credits

  • Words: Chuck Dixon
  • Art: Esteve Polls
  • Colors: Marc Rueda
  • Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment
  • Price: $3.99
  • Release Date: May 19, 2010

Acting as a prequel comic to this summer’s where are they now action film, The Expendables, this isue by writer Chuck Dixon injects enough personality and machismo into the premise, elevating it above your typical licensed property comic. The premise, of course, is about a group of top-notch mercenaries with less than air-tight morals and their various adventures. They call themselves The Expendables, which I don’t completely understand because it implies that members tend to have a high mortality rate. Regardless, it’s a catchy little moniker, so I dig it.

The movie stars action icons like Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li, and Dolph Lundgren, so a majority of the characters have a familiar likeness. The art by Esteve Polls leans in a style similar to that of Georges Jeanty on Buffy Season Eight in the way that he keeps the likenesses familiar, but not distractingly so. You can tell that team leader Barney Ross is Sylvester Stallone, but you accept it and move on as opposed to examining it for accuracy. Polls keeps the eye flowing and is more concerned with the balance of storytelling than the ability to get Jason Statham’s face stubble just right. It’s appreciated and contributes to the readability of the book.

The story involved in this first issue is that of an introductory level. The main focus is merely that of establishing this group’s ordinary world. We witness a quick mission to introduce the members (all with their own unique handles) to show their dynamic as a team. Immediately after, there’s a bridging sequence with a few leads to illustrate their down time (or lack of) from danger. It’s a slightly abrupt transition, but serves its purpose. This is done, not so much in the narrative, but in the deepening of these personalities, which can have just as much impact as a tight plot. I’d go so far as to argue that when handling the adaptation of another medium’s property, unless you have complete control, your hands are typically tied with the extent of the plot. So, any good writer will presumably work within these confines and explore other areas of focus, like the characters.

This string in popularity of licensed properties has really thrived on the handling of fictional personalities more so than plot details or toy logos. Last year, one of the best mini-series I read was a G.I. Joe book, not because of my nostalgia for the action figures, but because of the complex characters and real emotion poured into the page. Its been said that any media can be elevated by honest writing and Chuck Dixon gives these archetypes real voices. Of course, this reality’s version of organic voices is heightened due to the extravagant aspects of the plot, but it still oddly rings true.

This book's main concern is to establish this cadre of soldiers as cool, collected, and highly capable anti-heroes. In doing so, the creative team has put together a fun read that actually does make the reader a little more intrigued by the upcoming movie. Sure, it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but if this series can capture the unabashed awe and applause that the trailer garnered the last time I visited the cinema, then they can label the endeavor a success.

There is pleasure in watching a skilled individual do something he or she is good at, like the enjoyment a heist or a well-placed training montage. Things like this are usually able to captivate an audience. That’s a little what this book is -- skilled warriors doing what they’re good at, waging small wars. There’s an inherent entertainment value associated with it that this issue touches upon and which, hopefully, further installments will be able to capture more fully.

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