Review - Havoc Brigade #1

In the heyday of my cartoon viewing youth, there was one show that aired that often gets forgotten amidst Transfomers, He-Man and Thundercats. The show was Exosquad, which followed a group of soldiers who fought in robotic exo-skeletons and were known as Able Squad. It wasn't the first property to use that premise, but something about the show stood out. It was pretty awesome.

Studio-407 hopes their take on the premise stands out just as much in Havoc Squad #1, a new series written by Neal Marshall Stevens and illustrated by John Bosco.

The book is set in the near future Europe, embroiled in an ongoing war with an almost bleak expectation that the war will continue to rage. Nothin can quell the conflict until the Havoc Brigade appears, a military experimental weapon that inserts a soldier into a mechanical suit of armor and weapons.

The Havoc Brigade use their abilities to singlehandedly end the war, an action that gets them nothing more than a pat on the back and fear that the suits could be used for more nefarious purposes. The former commander is a little upset at the action, namely because of his personal investment in the squad. Sergeant Barnes and one of the surviving member of the brigade are tasked with stopping the newly motivated Havoc Brigade.

The thing about Steven's writing in Havoc Brigade is that the title team does get top billing, but not in the way you would think. It's easy to fall into a trap in a story where the Havoc Brigade is featured on every page, being reckless yet precise. Stevens goes a different route.

Instead, he focuses on the soldiers inside the suits. It's even pretty interesting how they "transform" into the Havoc Brigade. The soldiers are transported in the back of a truck until they enter life-size molds that insert them into the Havoc Brigade armor. It's an interesting new way to show heroes suiting up.

Bosco's art is pretty even keel, consistent throughout the entire issue. The suits are drawn very well, a lot of emphasis on the clear openings in the helmets to show the soldiers' faces. This was probably done to stick with Stevens' idea of showing the soldier within the suit and it works.

There's some interesting stuff happening in Havoc Brigade #1. There's a good mix of combat, personality and emotion and the actions taken at the end of the issue are fairly gruesome. There's definitely going to be an interesting battle between Barnes and his mentor, especially when the suits are in play.

Havoc Brigade #1 is in stores in July with interiors below.