Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Common Foe #1

Common Foe #1, May 2005, Image Comics/Desperado Publishing
writers: Keith Giffen & Shannon Penton
artist: Jean-Jacques Dzialowski
letterer: Joe Martin
colorist: Len O’Grady

Tomorrow night, President Bush is scheduled to address the nation with an emphasis on his “new and improved” strategy for winning our war in Iraq. No matter the tactic, critics will undoubtedly express their disapproval, not to mention the terrorist groups that will offer the usual slew of threats against America in light of the President’s determination. For years now, laymen like have wondered what the world needs to achieve harmony, what it would take for nations to lay down arms, agree to pose no danger to their fellow man, and live with our respective cultures in peace. In Common Foe, Giffen, Penton, and Dzialowski pose an interesting solution.


Common Foe is one part Saving Private Ryan, one part Alien, as American and German soldiers in World War II join forces “against an ancient evil hell bent on destroying everything in its path,” according to the synopsis on this issue’s back cover. Honestly, there’s little else to this comic. Peppered with the machismo undoubtedly characteristic of soldiers from that era, evidenced by obscenely (but chuckle-worthy) stereotypical dialogue, Common Foe #1 is pure action, with an opening sequence so suspenseful and visually terrifying that it rivals any modern blockbuster horror flick. I was fortunate to read this issue with a sliver of sunlight left in the sky, some modicum of security and sanctity. Plus, I’m not a soldier in WWII Germany, so . . .

Despite its popcorn appeal, Common Foe poses an interesting inquiry, if even in just its title. How easily could archenemies, like, say, America and the Taliban, overcome their differences in the face of an omniscient threat? When does self-preservation overpower hatred? (According to Marvel, even Dr. Doom helped clean up in the 9-11 aftermath.) If universal war looked at good as Dzialowski illustrates it, I’d buy an ouija board first thing in the morning. Seriously, Dzialowski’s scanned pencils (I presume), coupled with O’Grady’s capable coloring, makes for a visually appealing package. It’s the kind of window dressing one might expect to surround a president during a controversial, potentially global-changing speech.

When you’re selling a plan as controversial as his, or Common Foe’s, you need to sugarcoat it a bit. Unlike this comic book, the slightest discomfort could incite us to war. And some demons are hard to vanquish.

No comments: