Into The Heart Of Darkness
Tripwire continues its 100 Graphic Novels You Should Read While Stuck Inside with its twenty-eighth choice, Unknown Soldier by Garth Ennis and Killian Plunkett, reviewed by Tripwire editor-in-chief Joel Meadows…
Writer: Garth Ennis
Artist: Killian Plunkett
Vertigo/ DC Comics
Today’s choice is Vertigo/ DC’s retcon of DC’s classic war character, The Unknown Soldier. Created by Robert Kanigher and Joe Kubert in 1966, the Unknown Soldier had a popular run of tales in the 1970s in Star Spangled War Stories and there was a miniseries that brought him back in 1988 at DC. This miniseries, reprinted in a single volume, was published in 1997 by which point Ennis was already a big name thanks to Preacher. Here the Unknown Soldier is a US government clean-up man, a throwback to the Second World War, who is brought in to fix situations that the army has lost control of. Maverick CIA agent William Clyde finds himself in his orbit, in a trail that leads to US army corruption, the horrors of war and eventually to the Soldier himself.
Modelled a little on 1970s paranoid conspiracy thriller movies like Three Days Of The Condor and All The President’s Men, Unknown Soldier is a very solid modern action tale with Ennis’ muscular plotting and hard-nosed dialogue matched perfectly by Plunkett’s kinetic storytelling. The Unknown Soldier is very much an anti-hero but Ennis explains the reasons behind the dark place he occupies in the world. It definitely feels like a Vertigo series and no scene is wasted, building to a very satisfying crescendo. Plunkett left to work on film and TV but he was a very good comic artist, understanding character development and able to tackle action sequences with as much aplomb as more lowkey scenes. Tim Bradstreet’s dramatic covers here also set the tone perfectly for each chapter.
Ennis has a natural inclination for war stories and Unknown Soldier is one of the best modern reinterpretations of a classic DC war character.
Here’s links to the other graphic novels reviewed so far