PATRIOT – 1 [Graphic Novel Review]: Phantom America.
Flags are wavin’, praise be given, let the bullets fly congregation. Don’t worry your Indie-lovin’ brown-eyed Guy Padre drops in for a visit to the, ahem, Tuesday Stash (Happy Belated, Super Moms!), not with guns in hand, but with a hot indie book that turns out to be a pretty solid pick of the week.
I really didn’t know what to expect going in. Maybe a little riff on GI Joe or that Captain fellow who seems to be destroying box office records like an out of control drone set to autopilot. But what we have here is so much more than some ode or homage to other tales. This is an original work that stands on its own.
Patriot – 1 is a nearly 180-page graphic novel written by Kevin Powers (Mack Turner: Slayer of the Dead, WWE.com), with line art from Dexter Wee (Cura Te Ipsum) and colors by Donna Gregory (The Intrepids, Gutter Magic). It is a military thriller set in the turbulent Middle East of today and is centered on Staff Sergeant Ken “Phantom” Baker, his special-forces unit, an elite CIA team, and a terrorist conspiracy that takes the hero down a dark well of betrayal. There’s more to the tale, but diving too deep into the plot, well, that would be spoiling. We are dropped into the action right from the start when all kinds of bad unholy hell breaks loose leaving our hero with a new mission, new alliances, and some hard choices to make.
Powers seems to really grow as a writer as we get deeper into the story. Some stilted dialogue and over-exposition in the beginning soon gives way to a more natural flow of speech that adds weight to the characters instead of weighing them down. Towards the end, there are some resolutions that are a bit telegraphed, but as a whole the story flows nicely. What we are left with, despite some roughness around the edges, is a tense, gripping thriller filled with visceral action and a very well rounded cast. At times it reminded me of what I’ve been missing in a military action comic since the end of Andy Diggle and Jock’s The Losers (which turned into a flick that also featured that Captain guy). The military aspects appear to be well researched, from the weaponry, vehicles, and communication used to the locations and departmental structure of the units represented.
On the visual front, the artwork is gritty and realistic. Wee and Gregory work well together to really bring all of the principles to life. Wee does big bombastic firefight action well, really shining when it is all guns blazing and time to make the enemy go BOOM. The fight scenes are well laid out and he even handles the quieter scenes well. There are some beautifully detailed weapons on display as well.
In the end, Patriot – 1 left me wanting to read more about the book’s eponymous star. It is a complete story that also works to lay the foundation for future adventures.
Find out more about Patriot – 1 at http://patriot1comic.com/.