G.I. Combat is one of those books that makes you wonder, "Does this really need a dedicated origin issue?" And the answer proves to be, "No, not really." Certainly, there’s no real need to showcase what happened before the soldiers in The War That Time Forgot started stabbing and shooting dinosaurs. Acknowledging that, issue #0 shifts the content in favor Palmiotti and Justin Gray’s Unknown Soldier story. Luckily, as much as I’ve been ambivalent about that revamp so far, the writers make good use of the format as far as fleshing out thier new character and the Unknown Soldier mythology.
Rather than turn back the clock to an earlier point in the main character’s life, the segment explores the general legacy of the Unknown Soldier in the DCU. Palmiotti and Gray add an Assassin’s Creed-style genetic memory element to the character, allowing him to experience the exploits of Unknown Soldiers who fought in Vietnam, the Revolutionary War, and even ancient Rome. It’s an interesting wrinkle to the formula that dredges up a healthy slate of new questions about the character. Unfortunately, the script falls apart at the end as the writers steer haphazardly into a new conflict and resulting cliffhanger rather than simply ending this interlude on a more satisfying note.
Though much shorter than usual, J.T. Krul’s The War That Tim Forgot portion still offers up a healthy dose of dinosaur carnage. In this case, readers learn more about the veteran dino-slayer who revealed himself in the previous issue. It’s a fun read, though Ariel Olivetti’s surreal, unnatural backgrounds really work against the story. At this point it would almost be preferable to have soldiers and dinosaurs grappling against blank backgrounds.
It isn’t enough for DC to offer traditional war-themed comics. The lackluster sales on this series and its predecessor are proof enough of that. The tales in G.I. Combat need to showcase war as it exists in the DC Universe, reflecting all the colorful characters and concepts that dwell within. Issue #0 does a better job than any issue previous of satisfying that need.
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