20th Century Men #3 ADVANCE REVIEW: with a journalist, we experience the horrific beauty of war


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

 

Krylov the journalist —or as the soldiers call him, the fairy tale merchant— has now embedded himself with them to witness what the war looks like. He bonds with them as he tries to find out more about them and Platonov. He is fully unprepared for the events and wonders, if he’s even going to make it out alive. Will he get to be able to interview Platonov or will he and the team get taken out as casualties in a war that their country will see as necessary sacrifices?

 

We are back with one of the most complex books on the stands at the moment. As I have mentioned before, Deniz Camp and the team are not willing to take sides in a war that was more than just kinetic. With the added surrealist tones running through the narrative, it breaks up the horror but never shies away from it or denies it. In what is the most heart-wrenching moment I’ve seen in recent comics history, Camp details the hospitality and faith of the Afghan people. How they treat people in need, and then the repercussions. 



I love that despite Camp not being willing to take sides, he’s still painting both equally poorly. 20th Century Men #3 is a more Russian-centric issue, which means more focus on the Communist side of the Cold War. The most interesting aspects of the issue is when the soldiers talk about the politicians' mission to Mars. They explain that both Mars and Russia are the same in that “without sacrifice, nothing can survive”. With this being an exaggerated version of events, we don’t know if they actually made it to Mars or if this was propaganda just to inspire the citizens and the soldiers. We are left in the same confused state as the reporter, who is sure that Platinov is lying about Mars. Either way it is clearly effective, as it has the reporter not knowing what the truth is. Which is exactly why the soldier responds to the reporter saying “what is truth?”, as to them or the politicians, it’s not a fact-based comment; truth is whatever the ruling party deem it to be.

 


Unlike the last issue, this didn’t have any prose. And there was at least 14 either half-page or full-pages of art. Meaning we got to savour the art more in this issue. However, even at 30 pages it’s still longer than the average book, so there’s even more of it to enjoy. The two examples I’ve shown above, although both taking place in the desert and during war time, there’s something just picturesque and beautiful about how they're drawn. Even in this hostile environment, it’s still gorgeous. So S. Morian has done a phenomenal job of portraying its beauty and yet the conflicting horror during battle. As much as I wanted to crop the panels to make them fit perfectly, it would have meant minimising the beauty of it. So if you enjoy good art then this book is worth the price just for that alone.

 

Overall, another stunning issue by the team. Although I say that the art on its own is worth the price, so is the writing. It just means we as the customer are getting more for our money with a premium product. One that’s thought provoking and aesthetically stunning. Only 3 issues in, but the team have done so much. I can’t wait to see how this continues, and I think this will be a stunning trade once it’s collected. I rate it 4 POPs out of 5.



20th Century Men #3 will be released from Image Comics on 26th October from your Local Comic 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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