Arrowsmith: So Smart in Their Fine Uniforms

Kurt Busiek, Author, Carlos Pacheco, Author, Carlos Pacheco, Illustrator . DC/WildStorm $14.95 (160p) ISBN 978-1-4012-0299-6

In the first of a proposed series of Arrowsmith books, Astro City writer Busiek builds a clever extended metaphor to play with the tropes of smalltown-boy-learns-that-war-is-hell stories. It's 1915, and Fletcher Arrowsmith is a Connecticut farm boy who heads to Europe to learn to fly and fight the Prussians. It's all pretty normal—except that in this world, magic has taken the place of technology, Connecticut is part of the United States of Columbia, Fletcher's actually learning to fly on his own (with the aid of a miniature dragon), the aerial battles are fought with swords (when they don't involve "incendiary bolts" or monsters), Fletcher's hometown buddy is a Lothingarian troll with a thick foreign accent, the deadly gas that the Prussians and Tyrolians use turns people into flesh-eating demons and Fletcher must search his soul after he discovers he has helped destroy Holbrück by dropping fire elementals on it. Arrowsmith 's mixture of WWI aesthetics and sword-and-sorcery elements must've been tricky to pull off visually, but Pacheco holds his own, drawing with a slick-lined grace and understating the witty variations he's devised for everything from the soldiers' outfits to European architecture. Everything proceeds precisely according to the traditions of the genre, but the setup's ingenious enough to make the clichés tolerable. (Aug.)

Reviewed on: 09/27/2004
Release date: 07/01/2004
Genre: Fiction
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