From Publishers Weekly
When smalltown newspaper journalist David begs an assignment to Iraq, he's supposed to be covering the national elections; actually, he's attracted by the persistent threat of carnage and an urge to get close to violent death. David doesn't want to take part in any battles personally, but he can't stop watching as car bombs explode and bullets punch through bodies. As the title suggests, war can be an addictive drug, and there are people who will take any risk for a fix. Axe himself is a freelance newspaper writer who has been to Iraq six times, so his firsthand observations of episodes in combat are fresh and vivid. Beyond his role as observer, however, David remains a cipher, like most of the characters here. The book fails to develop its pseudo-autobiographical story enough to let an audience decide whether David is a helpless, innocent geek or a perverted voyeur of bloodshed"or an even more disturbing combination of those roles. Olexa's black and white art is technically proficient, but it lacks the intensity that would make us identify with David's addiction enough to recognize how much we media-saturated readers share it. (June)
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Later this year, young war reporter Axe will publish a prose-only book to which this striking collaboration with Olexa, a cartoonist and designer making his graphic-novel debut, may be reckoned a prologue. It tells how Axe got into war reporting, abandoning a county-politics beat in South Carolina and, without having asked or told her about it, his live-in girlfriend, for the conflict in Iraq in 2003. Beginning with a flashback to a preadolescent Axe absorbed in TV coverage of the 1991 Gulf War, the book proceeds with a text that is a montage of naturalistic dialogue, excerpts from letters, and smidgens of Axe's first-person self--explanation. Olexa's artwork sets the words primarily within brilliantly designed one- and two-page compositions in which temporally and spatially discrete images often overlap or are visually linked by the placement of the words to create and sustain narrative momentum. The sparseness of Axe's text, which elides most external specifics, and the complexity of Olexa's realistically rendered pictures unite to communicate powerfully Axe's fascination with war and induce readers to share it. Ray OlsonCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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