From my brief encounter with the ’68 franchise, I was impressed. Impressed enough that when I had the chance to review ’68: Rule of War I jumped on the opportunity. After my hunger being set by a sampling of this series, will this new #1 be able to sate it? Is it good?
’68: Rule of War #1 (of 4) (Image Comics)
Set in Cambodia, this book promised an interesting look at the Vietnam war while also giving gore-lovers the blood they so desire. And on the gore front, I don’t think there was a significant lack, but nothing entertaining. Plenty of blood and organs and brains soaked the pages of this comic, but there was no story to absorb it all. With cliche characters in even more cliche situations, it was hard to take this story seriously. A tough-as-nails war veteran journeying across the violent countryside with only his dog as a companion breaks down in tears when he is writing in his diary and remembers his son who went MIA. First of all, no. This guy is not the crying type. Second of all, the kid’s alive. It’s such a common cliche that it’s as if the author didn’t even want to think of anything original. It’s possibly the least ambiguous mystery of all time and doesn’t compel me at all to keep with this guy’s story.
So you’re thinking: blood, gore, that must mean the zombies are pretty awesome in this story, right? Wrong. The zombies have nothing to them and are completely replaceable antagonists. They don’t serve as some kind of metaphor or pose any unique or interesting threat to the heroes. They are simply filler villains and the second least interesting characters in the comic, trumped only by the Viet Cong themselves. It’s ridiculous how little character these meaningless scribbles on a page have altogether. They are literally just guns shooting at the character, with not even much dialogue to express what they’re feeling. It’s dehumanizing to the people and shows a very American-centric point of view. I understand that this was a brutal war, but can we only hear from the “righteous” American point of view?
So you’re thinking: blood, gore, gritty country, must be there’s an unbelievable talented artist on this book, right? Wrong again. The pencils are crude and emotionless, depicting the people as almost as dead looking as the zombies. There’s no diversity between faces and there is no motion at all. Even the gore doesn’t make sense. Eyeballs flying that are the same size as a brain, lungs that looking exactly like the stomach, nothing looks even remotely like the actual insides of a person.
The only thing even a little redeeming about this story is its opening pages. While they tell a story that, much like the rest of the comic, is cliche-ridden, it’s pretty intense and more than a little compelling. If all of the book had been as good as the beginning, we would be looking at a much different score and more importantly a more satisfying comic.
Is It Good?
I didn’t enjoy it very much. The story was uninspired and at parts rather insipid, while the art was crude and the characters bland. If you desperately want to read this story, despite my criticisms, my only advice is wait for the trade; there are too many threads to follow in the monthly series.