“Lost Soldiers” #1 is the work of writer Ales Kot and artist Luca Casalanguida, with Heather Marie Lawrence Moore on colors and Aditya Bidikar on letters. This unique Vietnam War-era comic makes use of a twin plot thread, examining the lives of old former soldiers both during their time in Nam, and many years later in their new occupation. Kot’s solid dialogue and haunting poetic passages combine with Casalanguida and Moore’s incredibly atmospheric art make this debut issue a powerful opener, with plenty of potential moving forward.
“Vietnam, 1969. Juarez, forty years later. Three men tied by the war they left behind—on a collision course with a new one.”
Writing & Plot
Ales Kot‘s plot follows a trio of old Vietnam vets who went through the grinder of jungle combat and now work as freelance operatives in operations taking place in Juarez, Mexico. The plot switches between their time in Vietnam as young men fighting in a war they don’t really understand, then to their briefings about their next job, where they do the only things they are likely good at anymore. The notion of old soldiers never being able to leave the battlefield, regardless of time period or location, is an old old story that’s still tragically engaging to read when handled properly. Kot’s three main characters are distinct individuals in their own right, with their own perspectives on the battlefield in ‘Nam, their personality types, and how they handle life 40 years after that war (even though they stayed in the field of blood & bullets). Because of this, there is considerable tension among the three, adding to the overall drama and believability of these three men. It also separates “Lost Soldiers” from much of its war story ilk where men can often be unabashed “brothers in arms” and making these three soldiers distinct individuals with their own moral compasses. The combination of brutal action and believable written humanity in this issue makes for an engaging experience throughout this first chapter and makes me excited to see what Kot has in store for the rest of this 5-issue mini-series.
“Lost Soldiers” #1 is gifted with the pencils of Luca Casalanguida, an artist who has crafted a gritty and fitting visage to every soldier that makes up the cast of this comic. His heavy linework and thick inks set the wear and tear in these men’s faces that paints how tired and unsure they are while in Vietnam, and then shows the age in their gaze 40 years later. There is still a distinct humanity in each man, and Casalanguida is able to show the pained existence behind the eyes of even the most optimistic of the trio, years after the first time they experienced war and have now found it again in a new country. Adding to the excellent artwork are the colors of Heather Marie Lawrence Moore. Outside of her detailed and realistic use of shades and shadows on characters, clothing, and environments both urban and jungle, she often uses this kaleidoscope effect during the battle and confrontation sequences in Vietnam. This coloring is reminiscent of the cinematography of Apocalypse Now, and casts shadows of mental uncertainty upon these moments. The lettering on this issue is solid, although it doesn’t do much more than purvey the text in the same font throughout the comic, with little to no change based on context. Overall however, this is a fantastic looking book with perfect artwork for the story being told.
“Lost Soldiers” #1 is a deep and unique opening chapter to this Vietnam war comic. Writer Ales Kot’s dual-plot focus and haunting poetic passages, as well as his sharp dialogue and characterization, make for a stellar reading experience. The visuals from Luca Casalanguida’s pencils and Heather Moore’s inspired colors are not only brilliant but perfect for the story that’s being told in this comic. If great war comics are your thing, then be sure to grab the first issue of “Lost Soldiers” on 7/29 from your local comic shop.