3 out of 5
Conceptually, I really dig this. I love this era of Vertigo anthology books (mid to late 90s), and that the ‘war tales’ were purposefully encouraged to encompass wars of all types – not just WWII and the like, but gang wars, samurai showdowns, etc. And issue 1 is absolutely distinctive: Corben art, Eric Shanower art, Brian Azzarello writing… this is A-game stuff from the various creators.
The tales are, alas, hemmed in by the general Twilight Zone last-minute-twist, with only Ian Edginton’s / Shanower’s entry (Willow Warriors) pushing past that into something more affecting.
It’s still entertaining as heck. Besides Warriors, Simon Revelstroke teams with Corben for a backdoor Lovecraft tale, visiting the unknown on some Germans, and Gordon Rennie and Randy DuBurke explore the tunnels under Vietnam in ‘Tunnel Rats,’ two stories that are visually striking, but with such potentially cool ideas that they could’ve used more than their 6 page allotments, as the scares feel cut off in their prime. And Azzarello and James Romberger offer the weakest tale – about the cycles of gang life – but only because we’re so steeped in Azzarello’s “steet” language, which I’m always torn on its effectiveness. Romberger, meanwhile, delivers a killer splash page, deserving of some better context, I think.