cover image Last Day in Vietnam

Last Day in Vietnam

Will Eisner. Dark Horse, $17.99 (80p) ISBN 978-1-61655-120-9

As with so much of Eisner’s output, this slim collection of battlefront reminiscences spanning from World War II to Vietnam could serve as a master class in both graphic short fiction and graphic journalism. The stories here are brief, with the exception of the title tale, in which a callous U.S> Army major leads Eisner on a tour of a base near the front line. Eisner’s use of subjective viewpoint not only expresses the author’s experience in the most direct possible manner but immerses the reader in the proceedings from the very first panel. The other stories feature many of Eisner’s great trademarks: strong narrative structure, punchy characterization, and a deceptively loose approach to panel arrangement and composition. For proof of the latter, see “The Periphery,” in which a silent character is increasingly foregrounded in successive panels, demonstrating that whatever is happening in his head is far more important than the rambunctious, vacuous dialogue uttered by the characters in the saloon around him. Eisner’s mastery is in full flower in this reissue of a late-period volume that emphasizes the vast human folly of war in a group of perfectly crafted miniatures. (Mar.)