Iron Siege #1 (2010)
By: Tristan Jones on January 12, 2011  |  Comments ()  |  Share 
Cover Art
Publisher: IDW
Writers: James Abraham, Andrew Hong
Art: Trevor Goring
IDW are certainly checking the right boxes when it comes to horror in comics these days. Silent Hill has really picked up it's game (pun not intended), their recent dabbling in J-horror with The Suicide Forrest, the indomitable Locke & Key, pretty much everything Steve Niles puts his name to… say what you will about the majority of their licensed material but their creator owned horror books really are pretty much as on the money as you can get, and Iron Siege is certainly up there too.

When I bought Iron Siege, I had zero prior knowledge of the book. I'd seen the cover in the monthly Previews catalogues, sent out to comic stores by the distributors, but never really bothered reading into it. What drew me to it when it arrived in stores was the fact that it was oversized, like the old golden-age comics of the 30's and 40's. At first it came across as a neat gimmick, but nothing more and after having a quick chuckle at that and a flip though to check out the art inside I decided to give it a look.

I tend to be a little hesitant on things set during the second World War these days, whether it's movies, TV shows, comics, or whatever because usually it's focusing on the Americans. Fair enough, a lot of it is written by Americans for Americans, but if my memory of history stands, then America didn't "officially" enter the greater conflict against Germany (as much of the pop culture stuff tends to deal with) until Hitler declared war on the US not long after Pearl Harbour, and there were plenty of other battles fought prior to that that make for equally, if not more interesting reading. Not to belittle the US's involvement in the conflict, because their involvement is just as important as anyone else's, it's just that as far as the mass media and entertainment industry is concerned, there tends to be an over saturation that falls into either Raiders of the Lost Ark, Saving Private Ryan or Captain America territory. Iron Siege, so far, does none of these things.

Set in Southern France at the tail end of the War, the 101st Airborne, led by Sgt. Jack Delacey, have been tasked with the capture of Colonel Karl Scherer, of the Waffen-SS (Nazi stormtrooper squads comprised of mixed-national soldiers). After a successful ambush, the 101st and their captives are left stranded when their transport truck is involved in an accident en route to HQ, forcing them to travel by foot to the nearest town. However, something much more horrific has arrived in the town before them...

Written by James Abraham and Andrew Hong (who, as far as I can tell are making their comic industry debuts with this book), the book feels like it's heading towards something along the lines of Assault on Precinct 13, and while the premise itself isn't necessarily anything new, the writers do bring a number of nice little touches to the story to give it a bit more flavour. The dynamic between the Nazi Colonel and Delacey is somewhat unexpected of a book like this, although I have a feeling it will end up going in one of two directions, and anyone else familiar with these kinds of dynamics (particularly in these kinds of stories or situations) will probably get a similar vibe and make a similar prediction.

That's not to say that the book is predictable, it feels it to a certain extent regarding certain characters (in much the same way a Predator movie does), but the prologue sequence was certainly the last thing I expected to see when I sat down to read it, which in itself reads to me like a nice little nod to the urban mythology of Southern France's Beast of Gévaudan. I may be proven wrong later, but that's certainly how it felt in this first issue, and I dug it. There's also a great scene that goes back to this while the group are travelling across the countryside, highlighting the assumed barbarism of their Nazi captives and the apparent ignorance of the American soldiers, which I'm certain will come back into play in later issues, given the relationship being established between the opposing leaders.

Though I really dug this first issue, and am keen to see where it goes, there are a couple of things I'll be keeping my eyes on. The pacing is a bit hit and miss leading up to their arrival in the French town, and certain panel choices and layout decisions don't help this, but without seeing the script I can't point to whether this is a problem on the end of the script or the art. I'm also really hoping that the relevancy a lot of the smaller things established here in this issue will become more evident down the track, as there are some ideas here that are great, but feel like they've been forgotten about (one that comes to mind straight away is the fact that Delacey is apparently a new C.O. to the 101st, and that the men don't really trust him, but the only way you can tell is through a comment made by Scherer and a caption earlier in the book; the dynamic between the soldiers certainly doesn't lead you to believe this… at least not in this chapter).

The art, by 2000 AD artist Trevor Goring, is great for the most part. I mentioned earlier how I chuckled at the Golden Age gimmick, but when I sat down and look at how some of the panels are used to showcase Goring's work, I was thankful it was released in this particular format, as some of the longer panels that stretch across both pages look fantastic, particularly during the prologue. The only real problem I had with the art was the fact that a lot of the characters look very similar facially, their expressions tending to be rather bland and samey here and there, and the truck accident sequence is a little hard to make sense of, but again, it's hard to tell whether that's something to do with the script or the art direction. The presentation of the landscapes and the town are all fantastic and everything at least feels authentic visually. Kudos must also go to Grant Goleash, who's worked on everything from Vertigo's 100 Bullets to Dark Horse's Star Wars books - the colours are absolutely gorgeous in this.

As far as horror books go, it's not perfect, there are a couple of hiccoughs here and there, but this is only the first issue (of three I believe) and if this truly is Hong and Abraham's first attempt at comic book storytelling, then they've done a pretty damn good job, and I'll definitely be seeing this one through to the end. If you like your horror to lean a little on the action side of things, you'll dig it. There's a Dog Soldiers vibe to it, and I think if that floats your boat horror-wise then this is right up your alley.
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