DC Comics’ The New 52 rolls on in its second week! I’ll be reviewing all 52 #1 issues released this month, and you can find all of the reviews on the Comic Book Reviews index page. This week we get 13 more new series, but I’m stepping back to review a book I didn’t get to last week. This one is called Men of War, though it was originally titled “Sgt. Rock and The Men of War”. Why they took the “Sgt. Rock” off the title is beyond me, since the book is about him. Anyway, I was mildly intrigued by “Men of War”, as it’s one of the few books in The New 52 that doesn’t have to do with superhumans. Or so you’d think…
This review will contain spoilers.
I give DC credit for trying something different here. Military books traditionally have been poor sellers, so it’s commendable–and intelligent–that DC is using The New 52 to try to launch a military book.
Unlike a good portion of the first half of The New 52 books, Men of War is thankfully totally accessible. It requires no prior knowledge of any events of any comic book, and anyone can pick it up and understand exactly what’s going on and enjoy it (or not enjoy it). The artwork is nothing phenomenal, but it’s easy to follow and gets the job done adequately.
In addition, I like the format of a lead story and a back-up story, even if it does come at the cost of this being one of the few $3.99 DC comics. Having a back-up story that doesn’t have to involve Sgt. Rock opens the gates for a huge variety of different types of militaristic stories that can be told. I actually preferred the back-up story chronicling the mission of a group of Navy SEALS slightly more than I did the lead story, so I’m glad it was included.
As a character, the future Sgt. Rock feels tired and cliche. The underachieving soldier who purposely makes mistakes to avoid being promoted and having to accept responsibility gave the lead story a total “been there, done that” feeling. There was never any doubt in anyone’s mind that Rock was going to end up a Sergeant, so it’s not particularly exciting or interesting when it actually happens. Although I must admit that the way it happens is a shocker, which brings us to…
Rock’s mission is thrown into chaos when an EVIL SUPERMAN-ESQUE METAHUMAN ATTACKS!
…No, seriously. That happens.
I was beyond astounded when this transpired. I had been under the impression that the whole point of this series was to give DC readers an option that didn’t involve superheroes. Having an “evil Superman”-type villain in the first story pretty much undercuts any chance of this series being the hard-edged, realistic military book that I was expecting and, quite frankly, would have greatly preferred.
Overall: I have no idea whatsoever what niche DC is trying to fill with this book. I don’t believe that there’s a market out there for “Realistic-ish military book where soldiers fight evil Superman!” This book isn’t horrendous exactly, but I doubt it’s going to appeal to more than a couple thousand people. I can’t really recommend this to anyone. If you’re dying for a military comic book, then get IDW Publishing’s GI Joe: Cobra series, which is worlds better (and shockingly, more realistic) than this Men of War series.