Lost Soldiers #1-5

I’m going with two-fers for the last couple of days of #WarComicsMonth so that I can squeeze everything in. This morning, my review was a modern book and I’m also keeping with the modern/contemporary stuff via Image Comics’ Lost Soldiers, a five-issue miniseries from Image by the creative team of Ales Kut, Luca Casalanguida, Heather Marie Lawrence Moore, Aditya Bidikah, and Tom Muller.

The book follows a team of former soldiers who are now doing black ops in Juarez, Mexico and whose latest mission has gone horribly wrong. Two of the characters, Kowalski and Hawkins, are Vietnam vets from the same platoon who saw some seriously bad action, especially in 1969 when they were under the command of Sgt. Burke. After the war, both were considerably adrift and found something in this work; however, Hawkins is getting too old and is ready to hang it up while Kowalski’s life has pretty much fallen apart.

So what makes the mission in Juarez a nightmare? How do Hawkins and Kowalski end up? Do they wind up coming to terms with whatever ghosts they have from the past? Lost Soldiers answers this in a satisfactory way and the creative team does a really good job moving between the ‘Nam in 1969, Juarez in 2009, and the “present day” of 2019. Both characters are well-written and fleshed out in a way that I was invested in them the entire time, and the artwork lends itself to all of the book’s settings.

At the same time, I feel like I’ve read this story before and unlike Dark Blood, I don’t know if I need to keep reading it. The Vietnam War moments are compelling and well-done, but as someone who’s read a ton of those comics and seen quite a few of those movies, it felt like a retread. Sgt. Burke, who is the villain of the past and the shadow looming over Kowalski, looks a lot like Frank Castle, and I’d say that this is a commentary on the “Punisher in The ‘Nam” books of the 1990s if I hadn’t seen Garth Ennis do a much better take on The Punisher in The ‘Nam. So while I would recommend checking it out if you come across it, I think I’m going to let Lost Soldiers fade away.

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