måndag 10 augusti 2015

Scott Mills: Trenches

Well, I was a bit skeptical when I opened Trenches. The art was a bit sketchier than I like, and I've read enough about WWI, and seen enough war movies and stories to be a bit blasé on the subject. Most war movies and comics leave me underwhelmed these days; sometimes perhaps undeservedly so. (But not in the case of, for example, Fury or Inglorious Basterds. Man, those movies sucked.)

Trenches by Scott Mills is about two brothers going to war. One, Davey, is a tough, hard-drinking womanizer. The other, Lloyd, more of a meek pencil-neck kind of guy – who was always put down by his brute of a father and his brother when he was a kid. Their commanding officer, Hemmingway starts the war with a firmer belief in discipline than the lads – especially Davey – but as each man evolves and learns more about himself and the others, a mutual respect and camaraderie evolves between the men – even, gradually, between the two, previously estranged brothers.

The story is told both in vignettes from the life in the trenches, with occasional bouts of war-fighting violence, and in flashbacks to the brothers' history together, mostly with not all that much harmony and brotherly love between them.

I had a problem with the art style for a while, but then I got used to it – and the important part of the story is really the evolving relationships between the three main characters, anyway, so realistic and detailed depictions of what the war really looked like isn't all that important, anyway. The art works, if you'll let it – but you might not be able to; I've read one review where the reviewer thought the art was too whimsical for the brutality of war. Now, I disagree, but I can see where the reviewer is coming from.

Anyway, by concentrating on the relationships, Mills avoids the trap so many war movies fall into: patching some sentimentality onto an action movie with lots of explosions. Mills doesn't have to do that, because he has a strong if not entirely original story using the war as a background and catalyst to push his characters together and forcing them to get to know each other better and learn to relate to each other. He does it well, which makes Trenches a recommended read.