Light Brigade #1
writer: Peter Tomasi
artist: Peter Snejbjerg
say there are no atheists in foxholes.
during World War II, when the Nazis seemed to be doing the
work of the devil himself, that had to be true. So why not
take it a step further, and let some Nazis be the devil
Light Brigade, a platoon of American soldiers encounter
German soldiers who aren't, actually, Germans. Instead, they
call themselves The Grigori (and a subset, The Nephillim),
a race of fallen angels that have seized the opportunity afforded
by World War II to destroy faith, overrun the Earth and conquer
heaven. You know, the usual.
smartly, Peter Tomasi takes pains to set up a regular war
story. After an opening page of angels struggling in the celestial
spheres, the writer establishes his regular American joes,
dug in to a cemetery in Belgium. Private Chris Stavros stews
in his own pain, having received a telegram informing him
of his wife's death and his son's crippling in a car accident.
While he gives over to numb nihilism, the stakes in his war
are about to get much, much higher than anyone could have
become a lot more common in comics to dip into vague Old Testament
references to heaven's host as story fodder. As such, Tomasi
isn't treading a lot of new ground; Garth Ennis certainly
has been here before with his runs on Hellblazer, Preacher
and possibly even Vampirella. But it's still a cool
concept, one that has to keep a grip on human imagination.
Just what does the Bible mean by there being "giants
in the Earth in those days?"
an intriguing if worn premise, Tomasi has an awful lot of
exposition to get through in this first issue, and he's a
little out of balance. One of the soldiers immediately recognizes
The Grigori for what they are; though it turns out that he
fulfills a role called Centurion, his true nature remains
a mystery. The narrative careens around the battlefield, and
it feels like a couple of key scenes are missing (unless DC
sent a preview copy with missing pages, which is possible).
Snejbjerg's art is cool, it doesn't help the problem. His
layouts, especially in the first confrontation with The Grigori,
are a bit chaotic. Maybe the mistake is in setting the battle
in a cemetery - it's hard to distinguish between regular corpses
and the walking unstoppable kind. However, the artist's character
work shines, especially with Stavros and a comic book obsessed
young doughboy named Simon.
to the choir, perhaps, Tomasi uses Simon to make a point about
comics' role in supporting morality. At least, once upon a
time, when things were simpler. Simon considers his unit to
be like the Justice Society, even crudely customizing shirts
for his fellows. Luckily for Simon, their war is about to
get even more clear-cut than any issue of All-Star Comics
off to a decent start, and The Light Brigade could
turn out to be a pretty moving piece of work.