By Jason Aaron, Cameron Stewart with Dave McCaig & various (Image: Vertigo)
ISBN: 978-1-53430-222-8 (Image HB) 978-1-4012-1350-3 (Vertigo PB)
The Viet Nam conflict scarred the American psyche the way no other war has – not even the still somehow-technically-ongoing debacle in Iran, Afghanistan and all points pointless.
Depending on your politics you will either agree or disagree with that statement. These days there are no shady areas or topics of nuance to debate.
What is indisputable is the effect Viet Nam still has on the American consumer. So, it was intriguing to see an attempt to portray that earlier conflict less in term of “Us and Them” and more as “You and Me”.
This superb and deeply memorable tale contrasts the journey from happy home to bloody combat of surly average teen Billy Everette, his counterpart, farmer’s son Vo Binh Dai, and their predestined clash at the Battle of Khe Sanh.
Drafted from his Alabama home, Everette is a reluctant screw-up turned into an average Marine by the sheer hell of Boot Camp, where even the terrifying and very real hallucinations and delusions he suffers from can’t keep him from that dreaded Tour of Duty.
In contrast, patriotic, dutiful Vo Dai enlists in the People’s Army of Vietnam and endures starvation and disease on his long march south, determined to sell his life dearly to free his country from oppression. He too is plagued both by doubts of his worth, and terrifying hallucinations…
This simple tale, powerfully told and subversively drawn, is a sensitive, darkly magical, horrific parable about war, politics and insanity, if indeed they aren’t all the same thing in the end.
The paperback book also contains sketches and artist Cameron Stewart’s photo diary of his research trip to modern Viet Nam – a compelling bonus greatly amplified in the 2017 deluxe hardcover edition from Image comics as well as the various digital editions – and hopefully those gentle counterpoints to history’s blunders from a later if no less wise era can offer a shred of hope to soldiers and families currently reliving the traumas of another age.
© 2007 Jason Aaron & Cameron Stewart. All Rights Reserved.