Weird War Tales (1997)
Reviewed by Bareesh
It's widely accepted in the comic community that the good folks at Vertigo are the most messed up group of individuals to ever hit mainstream comics. Weird War Tales was a four issue anthology mini-series released in 1997, featuring some of the top talent in the comic world (including the likes of Grant Morrison, David Lloyd and Brian Azzarello), on a topic that never goes out of fashion: war. And when they say weird, they mean weird.
Weird War Tales was originally a war comic printed through the 70s into the early 80s by DC. Vertigo resurrected it in the form that's being reviewed here. As with any anthology, there's the good and there's also the bad. Some stories really stand out; some don't really work very well.
Starting with the better ones, the Grant Morrison/Frank Quitely story “New Toys” is chilling. A plastic army man, who survives a battle where his platoon is wiped out, is subjected to an elaborate court-martial; whilst his forewarnings of the threat of “new toys” is ignored, as he is ultimately brought to the firing squad. The last page, where the soldier wearing a pink dress with the bag over his head as the guns are raised towards him, is particularly haunting. Another great story is Sniper's Alley, showing the desolate landscape of Sarajevo as a Bosnian marksman hunts a Chetnik sniper and stumbles onto a lost love (reviewer's favourite this one). War and Peas is about a WWII veteran resenting his life and suffering from the pangs of guilt for his friend who died in the war, as he ends up getting the girl as he came back alive. Very unexpected twist lies at the end of this one.
The Willow Warriors has probably the best artwork in the series and Tunnel Rats is a good Vietnam story. The Elopement though, takes the cake for most messed up ending, set during the American Civil War.
The anthology is mostly good. The worst of the series is probably “Ares” by Brian Azzarello and James Romberger. The story is about a young soldier in a brutal gang war. To make it seem authentic though, Azzarello tries to make the dialogue seem “street” and it ends up just falling flat. Bad Day on the Sajo has some beautiful artwork from Phil Winslade but the story by Neal Barrett Jr. is random and rushed to say the least. The same is the case with Salvation, where Danijel Zezelj does brilliance with the art, and is then let down by Jon Ney Rieber, with a story that doesn't really lead anywhere.
Overall, it's mostly very good. Some of the stories are worth revisiting from time to time. Some are forgettable. Definitely up to Vertigo's standards. See if you can find a copy at Jamil's.