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Lost Squad Paperback – October 16, 2007
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In 'Deus Ex Machina', the prologue to 'Operation: Crystal Ball' this collection's main story arc and graphic novel, the boys are assigned to deliver the second seal of Revelations. In this prologue, and our introduction to the squad, they will have to confront Nazi soldiers and a runamok God of War.
This will then segue right into 'Operation: Crystal Ball', the story proper starts, and we find our heroes on an airplane, still trying to deliver the Seal, when they are shot down over enemy territory. It is during the first chapter that we find that the war correspondent is a low-level telepath. After abandoning the airplane, and now on foot, they soon find themselves in an ambush, but not by humans, and the fight to complete their mission is on.
It's still early in the novel, and so they win, of course, and as the novel continues, so does the Lost Squad on their way to Conteville. As they do, they, and us the readers, will find them involved with mass demon possessions, zombies, tanks built like spiders, and a young girl named Isobel, who can see into the future, and who needs to get home to Conteville.
And when they finally get to their destination they find that Conteville has been devastated, with the natives blaming Isobel for this. It is here that the Lost Squad will have to make their stand against their enemies as they will have to fight the superior forces of evil in an epic battle royal against an evil that wishes to destroy the free world.
Honestly, I really, really wanted to like this graphic novel, but, I just couldn't get into it. Graphic novels will, whether anybody likes it or not, will all rise and fall on the art, and honestly, I just didn't like Alan Robinson's art very much. For a storyline that's very grim, gritty, and tries to be epic at times, the artwork, while very stark in its black-and-white presentation, is also just too caricaturist, too simplistic, and too cartoony for my tastes.
Now, while it's true that Robinson is creative, but his artistic skill on show here just isn't good enough to carry it off. At times his characters just seem a bit stiff, while quite a few of the characters look the same, and I didn't like the anatomically incorrect way that the faces seemed to be drawn, with the characters often seemingly to be over-acting, if such a thing were possible for cartoon characters.
But, really, it wasn't just the artwork that helped sink this book. As a reader, I just got the feeling that I had walked into a continuing story where a lot is assumed about the characters while nothing is ever explained. This leads to Chris Kirby giving us a somewhat incoherent storyline, which often seemed too difficult to try to follow, and to make sense of.
For instance, The Kansas Kid, is psychic, both the Captain and the Major are mages with the ability to put on a Doctor Strange-like magic show, with one of them being able to perform exorcisms. The three Chicago boys can heal amazingly fast, and at times seem invulnerable. One of which has his arm ripped off, and then just pops it back on. But there is no explanation for ANY of this. I mean, why do these members of the Lost Squad have these powers, how did these soldiers acquire them, and why do the Nazis have such incredible abilities and machinery? I always title my reviews with a quote from the text of the book, this time I had to work hard just to even find something interesting to quote.
I just needed something, anything, to put this story into perspective, and it just wasn't there. Chris Kirby and Robinson try to give "Lost Squad" an "X-Files" vibe, but it just doesn't jibe.
This collection then ends with an unrelated short story that is also written by Kirby, and while the black-and-white artwork by Alan Robinson is even more stark, it's also even more crude and cartoonish than the art in the 'Operation: Crystal Ball' story arc.
The Lost Squad have to capture a Mengelesque Nazi mad scientist for punishment, but of course, he's retrieved not for punishment, but like other NAZI scientists, he's going to be used for the Allied war effort. After reading this I'm not even sure that this story fits into the Lost Squad mythos, as some of the Squad will die. What we are left with at the story's end is a sense of cynical futility, and that we have wasted our time reading a story with bad art and a shop-worn, heavy-handed, and undistinguished plot.
This story was done better in the movie Frankenstein's Army, although that movie wasn't very good either.
This book has been in pre-production limbo from Rogue Pictures, but it's been in pre-production since 2006, so I wouldn't hold my breath to see the Rogue Pictures version anytime soon. But, we still have this graphic novel . . . but even though we do, there are just better things out there to read.
For this site I have reviewed these other weird graphic war novels:
DC/Marvel Crossover Classics, Vol. II by Dennis O'Neil, Chuck Dixon, George Pérez & John Byrne. Has a great Batman/Captain America crossover.
Dead West by Rick Spears & Rob Goodridge.
Halo: Uprising by Brian Michael Bendis & Alex Maleev.
If possible, find a copy of the movie Zone Troopers and watch that instead or check out Showcase Presents: The War That Time Forgot, Vol. 1.