No Enemy But Peace one-shot
Writer: Richard C. Meyer
Artists: Martin Montiel Luna & Richard C. Meyer
Letters: Thomas Mauer
Publisher: Machinegun Bob Productions
Price: $3 US
This self-published effort is based on a true story of one soldier’s experiences and actions during a key battle in Iraq not long after the United States invaded more than five years ago. On simply that basis, the storytelling is compelling, given that it purports to be real rather a fiction designed to shock and/or inform. The greater draw of the book is the passion of its creators, which clearly shines through. Their intent to honor the actions of U.S. troops is obvious, as is their love of the medium they’ve opted for the presentation of their tribute. Still, the fact that this foray into comics storytelling is new to them is undeniable. It’s difficult to follow the flow of the action and plot, as neither the art nor the script provide enough cues to allow the reader to differentiate among the characters or to see clear transitions from scene to scene or setting to setting. The detail in the art is crisp and clear, and I can’t help but think that there would have been more clarity had the book been presented in color rather than black and white. While there are flaws here, the writer and artists also show potential. It’s quite likely that they’ll learn from this effort and refine their craft for future offerings the writer promises in his foreword.
Sgt. Marco Martinez and the other soldiers in his unit find themselves in 2003 in the unlikely locale of Tarmiya, Iraq, and what seems like a routine day turns into an explosive firefight. The U.S. troops are forced to fight and think on the fly. In what seems like moments, Martinez finds himself cornered, with nothing in his hands but a foreign weapon he doesn’t know how to use and the lives of his friends. He quickly demonstrates that heroism stems not from bravery but from necessity.
While Luna and Meyer are listed as the artists, I can’t be sure if Meyer serves as the inker or if both provide pencilled art for different pages. I suspect it’s the latter, as there are clear shifts in the tone and even darkness of the line art. One of the artists provides some finely detailed artwork, similar in appearance to the work of Ian (Titans) Churchill, albeit with a stronger eye for anatomy than Churchill. The other artist’s work is a bit awkward at times, not nearly as detailed even though it’s not as sketchy. The biggest problems lie with the failure to offer more variety in character designs and the lack of clear cues to denote shifts in scene and focus.
The script has the same problems, and Meyer’s biggest mistake is that he doesn’t incorporate the characters’ names enough into the dialogue and narration. Sure, in real life, you don’t keep referring to someone directly by his or her name; those already familiar with one another wouldn’t keep using names over and over. But that digression from reality is necessary in storytelling. While the characters don’t have to remind each other who they are, the reader needs to be included.
Meyer’s got the right pedigree when it comes to presenting a real-life vision of war in a desert. The foreword indicates he’s a sergeant in the U.S. Marine Corps (if I’m reading the abbreviations correctly). As such, he focuses on the grunts and the deadly circumstances they face. There’s no context included as to why they’re in those circumstances, and I can understand why he might be reluctant to do so. As someone with an interest in politics, though, I felt something was missing as a result. Now, that’s more a matter of personal preference, I suppose, than a mistake on Meyer’s part, but then again, it’s natural for one to be interested in the larger perspective of someone who experiences the real cost and chaos of war. 5/10
For more information about this independent comic book, visit its official website.