watching The A-Team when I was younger and wondering
how it is that with all the explosions and gunfire, no one
ever seemed to get killed. So this brought up some questions
as to whether The A-Team was really as good as it pretended
to be. Sure, Face could talk his way into any woman's bedroom,
but the slick bastard was almost never in a firefight. Hannibal
was supposed to be the leader and tactician, but ended up
just punching the bad-guy-of-the-week and picking a fight.
Murdock. And B.A. was just muscle that spent
most of his time drugged into unconsciousness due to some
phobia that escapes me at the moment.
it to say they were more like a C or D-Team.
I bring up this very bad television show is because I've quite
recently discovered an A-Team deserving of the grade in the
form of The Losers from DC/Vertigo.
were an A-Team ("Alpha Team") Black Ops unit for
the C.I.A. until someone within the agency, the mysterious
"Max," decided that they had become a liability
and placed them on the agency death list. After blowing up
a helicopter which was supposed to contain the team, the Losers
became Killed In Action. If only it were that easy, you wacky
Central Intelligence Agency.
Roque, and the rest of the Losers are alive and itching to
get back their lives. The only way to do that is go to war
with the CIA and find a way to get their names off the death
list. When that opportunity arrives in the form of some sensitive
information that the US does not want the American public
to know, the Losers go after it. But even knowledge of the
CIA's Black Ops drug pedaling may not be enough to get the
Losers what they really want: Max's head on a plate.
told that The Losers existed in some other comic book
incarnation at some point (editor's note: most recently
in The New Frontier #1 you
ignorant Sparling, you) and this version by Andy Diggle
is a revamp or update or some such thing. For once, my youth
serves me because I have no idea what that incarnation was,
so I can evaluate the work without a preconception.
stands alone rather well and Diggle manages to strike a great
balance between the action elements of the script, the characterization
of the team members, and the engrossing plot. The action itself
is superbly done and, coupled with the panels by Jock, makes
for some great visuals. Diggle injects the script with energy
everywhere, even in the dialogue, which manages to make the
talking head scenes faintly kinetic. He also knows where to
pause a scene for a chapter break (or for the individual issues
rather), creating palpable suspense for the reader. I've been
reading comics for over a decade now and it has become pretty
difficult to keep me rapt with anxiety over what will happen
to the characters, but Diggle pulled it off. He even managed
to throw a surprise into the script that I did not see coming,
though in re-reading the graphic novel I realize I really
should have caught it.
note is Diggle's character work. In a book like The Losers,
I don't expect an overabundance of characterization or even
truly distinct personality, and I was pleasantly surprised
to find a healthy does of both. Each member of the team, while
not deeply defined, is distinct. Despite generalized character
classification that goes along with a team book, (the technie,
the muscle, the mysterious nnja-like person, etc.) Diggle
makes sure that the skill the character brings to the team
doesn't define the person. Jensen, while the obvious techspert
of The Losers, is also just as deadly with a pistol and nothing
to lose as Cougar with his laconic speech pattern and high-powered
sniper rifle. Pooch, the mechanically inclined of the group,
is a family man with a faintly softer temperament than his
teammates, but no less willing to shoot someone in the face
if it will accomplish the objective.
enough, we know more about the background of Aisha, the stealthy
scary woman, than about any of the others. Diggle also paints
an interesting picture of the leader Clay; while he has the
tough-as-over-cooked-steak gruffness to him, there's also
light sense of moralism that seems to color his character
that I think will affect the team in later volumes.
by Jock (seems like every comic book artist nowadays has adopted
the singular name a la Cher) is decent and fits the
story and pacing perfectly. All his pages have a sketchy quality
that echoes the frantic and rapid movement of the script,
sort of like a less heavily inked Mike Mignola on speed.
than his good panel work, Jock composed the covers for the
original issues which separate the chapters of the story.
These are some of the best covers I've seen in the last few
years as far as composition goes, which cements for me the
fact that Jock knows how to put together really good visuals.
Lee Loughridge's colors add great dimension to Jock's line
work, and Loughridge knows how to light and color different
scenes well. I was particularly impressed with some of the
dusk and nighttime scenes, where just the right coloring added
a lot to the story.
has been a revival of the spy/espionage genre in recent years
with titles like Queen & Country and the more recent
Kiss Kiss, Bang
Bang, but a book purely about Black Operations and
secret government strike teams is more rare, and Diggle's
ongoing series is much appreciated. And in yet another stroke
of marketing intelligence, DC/Vertigo gives the reader the
first six issues of the story for only $9.95. It's cheaper
than a DVD and probably better.