Lost Soldiers #3 is this week’s release from Image Comics from writer Ales Kot, artist Luca Casalanguida, colorist Heather Moore, and letterer Aditya Bidikar.
Background and Recap
Lost Soldiers is the story of three Vietnam War veterans and how they’re drawn into a drug conflict forty years later. As post-war PTSD still affects our unnamed main character, he still fights on like the war never stops. Between hallucinations and a former ally out for blood, the POV character fights by playing a war drum.
Lost Soldiers #3: A and B Sides
Alest Kot of Zero fame opens Lost Soldiers #3 with lines from David Lynch and Barry Gifford’s Lost Highway. In that movie is a surreal premise that likens to a Mobius Strip where the protagonist fails to encounter his real self. This can set up the premise rather nicely for newcomers, especially since the next page opens the issue in a shootout. This allows both newcomers and returning readers from issue 2 to seam into the conflict. The rest of the issue’s first-half plays out with an intense brawl with a beating like that of war drums. Something that the POV character claims to hear himself.
The other half, meanwhile, is the recovery period, taking a much more melancholic tone. After surviving a life-threatening situation, our unnamed protagonist has a chance to reflect on what he lost. However, he only seems ready to repeat a conflict because it’s the only constant in his life. This allows Lost Soldiers #3 to create a very tragic conflict that calls back to that quote at the beginning. Much like the protagonist there, this character fails to encounter himself only glimpse at it. At least that’s what a hallucination suggests.
Luca Casalanguida provides Lost Soldiers #3 with artwork that allows for wide panel cinematography and visuals that provide different beats. Every discharge of kinetic energy almost acts like musical notes. They even combine with the captions of Aditya Bidikar to the point they almost act like song lyrics. A few other aesthetics, like lines provide just the right kind of weight to counteract negative space. And that’s just the first half of Lost Soldiers #3.
The other half makes heavy use of repeating panels that might or might not change for dramatic effect. Unlike the rock music vibes from the first half, there comes this slow song with no lyrics just moods. These small changes redirect a plot point’s trajectory, giving them much more weight than the straightforward cinematics. But that’s not all; during a page-turning moment, people don’t know what to expect after a slow build up on opening a door. On the next page, people get a glimpse of what was inside, where they join the protagonist in disappointment on a damaged abode.
Heather Moore’s coloring, along with these techniques, highlights the emotional moments of Lost Soldiers #3. The first half features bright lines and flashes as the things to pay attention to. This makes the symphonic impressions all the more viable to apply. Not to mention the numerous shifts in coloring present different moods that shift the narratives. Reds are often a point of danger or conflict for events that have happened or are about to happen. Most of either half of the issue feature muted to semi-monochromatic to illustrate a hollow feeling the characters are going through. Contrasting all of that is the peaceful, diverse, and brighter coloring of a life the protagonist lost. Everything arranges into ways where readers feel both excitement and sympathy towards the protagonist.
The Mini-Album of Lost Soldiers #3
Within Lost Soldiers #3 is a simple yet compelling tale of Vietnam War Veterans unable to escape their many conflicts. When a life brings the rock music-esque adrenaline-pumping action, it’s hard to want to give that up. In turn, that helps readers follow the tragic fall of a man stuck in a limbo of his own making. One that could lead to a big dramatic conclusion.