I picked up Army @ Love from my local comic shop on a whim, knowing nothing about the title. The pages revealed a dark wartime comedy with a complex plot highlighted by a variety of eccentric, zany characters.

Sound interesting? It is.

A brief synopsis:

Present day. Gonlocomo Bay (not a typo), Cuba. Writer Rick Veitch is being tortured by the U.S. Government for creating a comic book that focused on “motivation and morale” of U.S. troops in a wartime situation. This did not please the American black-ties, as they accuse Rick of terrorist activity. Rick’s googling of top secret weapons systems and other suspicious items has forced the government to assume he is a threat to national security. Even so, Rick did mention something intriguing in his comic book; the concept of Temporal Signaling, which allows a mysterious entity to send messages back in time to people who are running a war. Not surprisingly, this information interests the government and they want to know more …

Some characters we meet in this first issue include a couple with an open marriage, an old man who is an experiment for stem cell research, a very horny soldier, and an abominable snow-woman.

Some thoughts on the issue:

-Writer Rick Veitch has created an odd, interesting world for his characters. His writing is entertaining, surprising, and witty, but he introduces too many characters in this first issue. I never thought I’d say this, but the exposition is delivered almost too quickly. Within half a page we meet over ten characters. As a result, it is easy to lose track of who is who in the initial read. On the flip side, with so many characters, Veitch has set up many different plot lines, all of which should be entertaining to watch pan out. Also, props to him for naming a character after himself.

-Inker Gary Erskine produces definite lines and does a great job shading for dramatic effect on the faces of the main players, and colorer Brian Miller only compliments his work.

-As no penciler is credited I am assuming either Veitch or Erskine drew the issue. Whomever penciled, their art is fantastic and what you would expect from a Vertigo publication. The characters facial structures look reminiscent of Steve Dillon’s work on The Preacher, and fits nicely in the style of the book.

-While using misspellings of global locales (Mongrolia, Afbaghistan, for instance) are silly, the book also presents the reader with social issues of the day and satirizes them; the American obsession for ringtones, the porn industry, and even stem cell research, to name a few. These issues play key roles in the subplots mentioned above.

-On a ridiculous note, this issue presents a character who inadvertently makes the argument that bestiality may be justifiable in some cases…

-Some one liners:

“What does it matter anyway? The book didn’t sell well. People aren’t ready to deal with the war yet anyway.” – Rick Veitch

“But Mr. Happy is really happy!” – Loman

“I’m a guy who would give his frontal lobes to play groin hockey with Sylvia Stein!” – Royden

“It may be small, but the new dingus certainly responds to visual stimulus.” – Stelaphane

-As peviously mentioned, the introduction of every prominent character did lead to confusion. I had to constantly flip back to the exposition page in order to follow along with the story. A second read through proved to be beneficial. While I understand the need to expedite the story telling in a six issue mini series, I would have preferred slower pacing with character introduction.

The final word:

While I’m not completely blown away by this premier issue, I’m definitely intrigued. With so many plot lines on the table so soon in the story, Army @ Love has been added to my pull list. After all, I want to know how much love gets made once the bullets start flying!

3/5 stars

Army @ Love #1