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Battle Born: Lapis Lazuli Hardcover – Illustrated, July 28, 2020
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Praise for White Donkey:
"It was 2010 when Uriarte, a lance corporal in the Marine Corps, created the online comic 'Terminal Lance,' which swiftly developed a fan base. Using some of the same characters, he created a more serious and involved graphic novel, THE WHITE DONKEY, based on his 2007 deployment in Iraq."
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Battle Born, however, doesn’t offer as much character growth and condenses a story with a fairly small scope to the point where it feels like the story is over just as you’ve begun. There isn’t much room for these characters to breathe and change, and when they do, it feels rushed and somewhat unearned. There’s also no particular character that grabs you as much as Abe does in The White Donkey. Characters feel one-dimensional or stereotypical — likely intended, but it does hamstring the emotional weight of the story. King, in particular, lost me as a main protagonist with the final scenes of the story.
However, plot and character issues aside, this is a decent sophomore effort for Max, and if nothing else, this would make a worthwhile summer blockbuster film.
From an artistic viewpoint, Battle Born: Lapis Lazuli is superior to The White Donkey. Afghanistan is richly illustrated in Uriarte's signature style. The snowy mountains make for a fantastic backdrop to the tale. The characters, Afghanis in particular are rendered in a way that conveys emotion and humanity which is appreciable. However, as I stated earlier, the story feels very much on rails, and very much like one you've heard many, many times before. On top of this, the themes of racial issues and colonialist history feel ham handed and forced. There are so many tropes and intersectionalist talking points in this book that come off as a lecture or showpiece, and do little to enrich the tale. If the author had been less blunt with these ideas and woven them more seamlessly into the tale itself, it would be less jarring.
All in all, I don't regret purchasing Battle Born: Lapis Lazuli. It will never hold the power and status of The White Donkey to me, but it is nonetheless a colorful and entertaining, if modestly contrived read.
What does a soldier think of killing? Something that I often find intriguing yet intimidating. Easy to judge, hard to live. The line of right and wrong blurs inevitably as we dive deep into personal world of perceptions, the spider web sends shiver down to each entangled strings. What gets shaken off, what remains for now, hopefully, is selected and done in a heart of love, in servitude and defense of the innocent and kind.
The making of graphics seems sophisticated and with the confidence of a visionary. A visceral viewpoint from a real soldier, a touch of haunting heaviness that leaves you thinking some more after putting down the book.