20th Century Men #1 ADVANCE REVIEW: a crazy, complex mix of reality, fantasy and comic mythology.



Written by: Deniz Camp, Art by: S. Morian, Letters by: Aditya Bidikar.

 

SYNOPSIS: A young woman from Afghanistan who wants to change the situation for her country, a cyborg Soviet soldier genius, and a super powered American President. It’s 1987, the USSR are in Afghanistan and it’s the height of the Cold War, which could be leading to a hot war. Both nations are out to prove their dominance, and the country of Afghanistan is stuck in the middle. Tensions are escalating, and the U.S. President doesn’t want the Soviet Union to be victorious.

 

Ever since I saw X-Men: First Class (Vaughn, 2011), I thought there was a market for a fantasy /reality mix. Something that can blur the lines of history and fiction, utilising real world events to drive a plot of a medium, be it comics, films, or even games. The Assassins Creed game franchise does this well, but it was always apparent that they were embellishing true events, whereas the X-Men film used the actual events to create plot points. It seems we finally have something from the comic book medium with that in mind. Deniz Camp is not a name I know, so I wasn’t sure what to expect, but the story is incredibly well written. None really comes across as either a true hero or villain, but both the characters that we get to meet properly have elements of both. The President comes across as hot-headed as he throws a desk out of a building. He’s also leading his country into a war that they don’t need to be involved in. Whereas the genius Soviet cyborg responds by saying “nothing priceless is lost” when he’s talking about the soldiers that have died for the cause. Both of these men clearly are very intelligent by the way they talk, but neither can be referred to as righteous.



Deniz Camp writes this crazy story so well that despite the flaws in the characters, you still find them compelling. It does help that the first issue is a whopping 39 pages which gives you more insight than most regular sized issues.



Now I have to say my favourite part of this issue was its page one (as seen above). Anyone who follows my reviews knows I’m a sucker for landscapes, but this stunning opening page may have me adding sunsets to it. I have no idea who S. Morian is, but the art within this book is both beautiful and horrific in all the best ways. From amazing character profiles to the gory side of war, this is some of the most raw art I’ve come across. It’s not clean cut and polished, but it goes well with the story. It reminded me heavily of the book Blue In Green by Ram V (you can see my review for that here). It wasn’t just the art that was reminiscent, the letters also were, but that was due to Aditya Bidikar being the letterer on that book, too.


Not the easiest book to grasp, with its complex characters, interweaving storylines taking place over different periods; I did have to take my time to fully grasp what was happening. I’m heavily reminded of multiple books, in addition to Blue In Green: also The Incal (Jodorowsky, 1988), in the artwork and design of Comrade Platonov, the Soviet cyborg. This makes me more excited about what’s to come. This was a fantastic read and I’m excited to have a book that mixes history with pop culture in this way. Violence, political intrigue, and superheroes all based on the height of the Cold War... what more could anyone want!


20th Century Men will be released on 17th August by Image Comics and your Local Comics Shop as well as comixology


 

Andrew Carr was blessed to grow up watching the animated series of Batman, X-Men, and his favorite, Spider-Man.This started his dive into the comics world, which resulted in meeting his amazing cosplaying wife Imogen. They live in England with their Sinister Six dogs.

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