THE BACK ISSUES: Not Just Another A-Team — The Losers Book One

Welcome back all. I know it’s been a while and I do apologize. To make up for it I’m reviewing Book 1 of “The Losers” mini-series from DC/Vertigo Comics. Written by Andy Diggle, and illustrated for the most part by kinetic artist Jock, “The Losers” is actually a reimagining of some of DC’s old WWII characters. Book 1 collects the first twelve issues of the series and was partly the basis for the theatrical film of the same name. Where the film had a more tongue in cheek attitude, the comic is quite serious and very violent. Sure there are some fun and funny moments, but nowhere near as many that popped up in the film.

If you’ve seen the film or were at least following the promotional material at all you know the story; a group of special forces soldiers are betrayed and left for dead by their handler, Max, and are now trying to seek revenge, as well as get their names off a secret CIA death list. The difference is in the execution of the action scenes as well as the building of the characters. There is no love scene between Clay and Aisha, Max is a shadowy Kaiser Soze-type with his puppet strings running deep into the US government, and that’s just the beginning of the kind of intrigue that runs throughout the comic.

Well-written by Diggle, all the characters come off as human even when they don’t talk much like Aisha and Cougar. Though the movie got the characters right for the most part they missed the point of Aisha almost completely. Her Introduction in the book is very serious and her speech to the human trafficking thugs is a haunting one in which you completely understand this woman’s anger and affinity for violence. The second half of the book also briefly focuses on each character and what they’re fighting for other than just getting their lives back. Pooch’s story in particular is a bit sad but in the end shows how tight his family is even in the face of betrayal. And the character of Max is a great one. A shadowy CIA operative, the name Max actually predates the CIA it seems. How long has he been playing for himself and not the best interests of the country? Who is Max really? And why did he set up our team of heroes in the first place? None of these questions are answered in the first twelve issues and it keeps you wanting more.

Jock’s art is absolutely brilliant, and a testament to this is the fact that panels from the comic were used in the opening of the film, and all new art by him was also used in the end credits. From the solid yellow/white of the light reflecting off of Jensen’s glasses, to the pronounced scar on Roque’s face that hints at his treacherous nature, Jock’s character design is energetic and well detailed. His action scenes are a blast as well. I actually first came across the team of Diggle and Jock on “Green Arrow: Year One,” which was also a great read.

Book 2 wasn’t out when I read the first one (except in two separate trades) but I look forward to finishing this tale and completing the collection. The movie was a fun ride but nowhere near as deep as the comic and I for one enjoyed both. If you want a good action book with some political/military intrigue and a few funny moments check out “The Losers” Book 1.