Whether you’re a military buff or a comics buff, but especially if you’re both, then Super Soldiers by Jason Inman is the book for you.
In Super Soldiers, Inman – himself a veteran of the United States Army – explores the relationship between the American Armed Services and comic books. Each chapter breaks down a different fictional service member to try and figure out if they’re a “good soldier” by contemporary military standards. Along the way, Inman shares never-before-told stories about his own time serving overseas.
First off, kudos to Inman. This is the author’s first novel, and it’s a thoroughly enjoyable read. His prose is casual and conversational, making for a comforting and inviting experience. It never feels like Inman is lecturing the reader. He’s having a chat, and giving you a peek behind the curtain at what it’s like being a soldier in the US Army (in his experience).
Each chapter is essentially an essay unto itself. So, if you’d like, you can actually jump around a bit and first read the chapters on characters that interest you the most. Reading it straight through will give you the most fulfilling experience, though, as Inman builds on topics and references past chapters frequently.
Still, the structure does allow for a lot of freedom, which makes Super Soldiers a great book to revisit, instead of reading it once and then letting it collect dust on a bookshelf. You’ll be tempted to pick this book up again and again, whether to refresh yourself on how War Machine represents loyalty among battle buddies, or how Beetle Bailey reminds soldiers that they’re still humans, and not just “a walking, talking uniform.”
You’re going to learn a lot from Inman while reading this book, both from a comics perspective and a military one. You’ll probably find at least one chapter about a character that you’re unfamiliar with, which will just wet your appetite to find out more about them. And with characters you are familiar with, Inman will give you a fresh spin on them as only he can, by comparing the characters’ experiences with his own.
On the military front (pun unashamedly intended), you’ll hear firsthand what it was like being deployed in Iraq. What did Inman and his fellow soldiers do in their downtime? How did they keep themselves from cracking up? What was it like being out on missions? You’ll also learn about military rules and procedures that you probably didn’t know existed (I, for instance, didn’t know under what circumstances soldiers could disobey direct orders). It’s fascinating, especially if you have even a fleeting interest in the military, and it helps keep the book grounded. You’re not just reading about fictional characters and their adventures; you’re reading about real people.
Inman isn’t just interested in glorifying the military or military life, either. He talks plenty about the (literal) dirty work he had to do, and his own doubts and reservations. He openly discusses the faults and failures of the military, as well as some of the comic characters (what, did you think he was going to write about how great Nuke or the Punisher are?). Inman describes himself as a “peace-loving hippie” in the book, so whatever side of the political spectrum you fall on, he wants you to be able to enjoy yourself reading. That kind of a bipartisan transparency is refreshing and welcome in 2019.
Super Soldiers is a great summer read. You’ll get sucked into Inman’s stories, and you’ll learn a thing or two along the way. And really, what more can you ask from a book?
SUPER SOLDIERS is out June 18th, 2019. You can purchase it on Amazon by clicking here.
Jason Inman is the writer of the creator-owned comic book series Jupiter Jet and the host of the Geek History Lesson podcast. You’ve also seen him on DC All-Access, Collider, Screen Junkies, and Nerd Alert.