War is Hello!

Army@Love Volume 2: Generation Pwned, written by Rick Veitch, illustrated by Rick Veitch, Gary Erskine, and Jose Villarrubia (2007-2008; collected 2008): Hilarious, scabrous satire of war and culture in the near future (“A few years from now,” we’re periodically told), as American troops in the country of ‘Afbaghistan’ fight to win hearts and minds, and to make the Armed Forces of the near-future a cool thing for American youth to join by any means necessary, including subliminal advertisements and shiny, happy multimedia depictions of the sex- and drug-drenched wonderland of modern warfare.

War isn’t like a video game. War has become a video game, but the participants are still prone to the age-old problems of stress disorders, drug and alcohol abuse, separation from loved ones back home, and the occasional enemy infiltrator.

Veitch’s career-long love of occasionally goofy, satirically pointed names (Beau Gest and Flabberghast, to cite two) still manifests from time to time, which can be a bit jarring when those names brush up against the more normative elements of the narrative. Otherwise this is Veitch’s sharpest, most well-observed satire in a career with many high points in that too-small subgenre of comic books.

In a perfect world, this series would have gone on for a long time. Unfortunately, we only got 18 issues of it. So it goes. Gary Erskine’s inks eliminate pretty much all the occasional shagginess of Veitch’s pencils, giving the book a sort of hard-edge hyper-reality that well serves the subject material and the treatment thereof. Great satire, and a great war book. This isn’t for the drooling old codgers sitting around watching The Hitler Channel. Highly recommended.

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