07th May2015

‘The Light & Darkness War’ Review (Titan Comics)

by Dean Fuller

Written by Tom Veitch | Art by Cam Kennedy | Published by Titan Comics | Format: Hardcover, 208pp

Light-Darkness-War

The Light & Darkness War was first published by Epic Comics, as a six issue mini-series, way back in 1988 and has been given a nice new lick of paint and general spruce up by Titan Comics. I never read this first time round, although I was aware of it, and was curious to see if it had aged better than I have.

The story is ever so slightly offbeat, so stay with me on this one. We follow the story of Lazarus Jones, a Vietnam veteran who not only lost his friends and fellow soldiers in the war, but also both his legs. Since then he has been deep in depression, and spiraled into drink and drugs abuse. If all that is not bad enough a serious car crash puts him in a deep coma, but this ultimately proves to be a blessing in disguise, a chance for redemption of sorts.

While in the coma, Jones’s spirit, or soul, is transported to another star system, Abraxas where his ‘dead’ platoon are engaged in the war between Light and Darkness. In a huge mish-mash of ideas and concepts, let’s just mention that Lazarus and his platoon need to defeat Lord Na to prevent him gaining access to Earth, while the weapons and creations of Nikola Tesla and Leonardo Da Vinci play a very important part.

To further complicate things, Lazarus later wakes from his coma. was it all his imagination, a dream? Are his teammates desperately waiting on his return?

Chock full of interesting concepts, I find the main theme of Vietnam the most interesting. For me, Tom Veitch wants to rehabilitate the reputation of Vietnam veterans, with Lazarus Jones a representation of the average vet. This war has no grey edges, it is a straightforward classic battle of good and evil, and the Vietnam vets are firmly on the side of good. We don’t feel guilty about cheering them on in this war. The use as well of Tesla and Da Vinci was a clever device, one copied many times since the original publication, but fresh at the time.

Cam Kennedy’s art is excellent throughout, capturing perfectly the fantastical world we are viewing, breathing life into every weapon, every vehicle, every character. There are some very nice full page splashes and double page spreads, all slightly reminiscent of Walt Simonson at his epic best.

My only real issue with The Light & Darkness War is that it is a little dialogue heavy, lots of word balloons all over the page, and the art can sometimes stray into ‘messy’ territory, with so much going on we get a bit overwhelmed. I suspect the chaotic feel was deliberate though, to give the page an energy, to throw the reader into the fierce fighting going on, so that is probably just my personal taste.

This edition also benefits from some text pieces, especially a strong piece from Stephen Bissette, and a ‘background briefing’ piece by Tom Veitch, filling in the gaps about the world we have just visited.
Published back in the mists of time when Marvel Comics actually encouraged creator owned content, this was apparently the book that caught the eye of Dark Horse Comics, and led to them offering Veitch and Kennedy Star Wars: Dark Empire (and its subsequent sequel). It’s easy to see why.

***½  3.5/5

The Light & Darkness War is released by Titan Comics on May 27th.

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