Review - Tet #1 (@IDWPublishing)

"I've never liked telling war stories."

Ask anyone who's ever served in war and chances are the stories will be almost unfathomable. That doesn't lessen the severity of the incidents though and many soldiers find it difficult to come away from the experience with nothing short of being jaded on life. Tet #1 from IDW Publishing is a book that brings that disdain with it. The issue is written and lettered by Paul Allor and illustrated by Paul Tucker.

The story centers on Vietnam veteran Eugene Smith, whose yearning to begin a new, post-war life is disrupted when a fellow Marine is murdered.

War has a tendency to breed horror stories and the Vietnam War was certainly no exception. Allor nails that tone pretty well, offering Eugene Smith as a protagonist who can be on the top of the world one minute and down in the gutters the next. It's a tricky thing to balance, but Eugene is a very effective vehicle for those emotional ranges as a soldier serving in Vietnam and an injured veteran living on government assistance afterwards. Allor's dialogue is a mix of optimism and realism--Eugene is cheerful at times when he's genuinely happy and a little more caustic when his cynicism comes into play. Much of that emotion in the story is focused on Eugene investigating the murder of a good friend, which also gives the book an interesting twist.

Tucker's illustrations speak to a different era of comic book illustrations. Characters are presented with fairly little attention to detail, as Tucker primarily focuses on the facial expressions of the characters. Those expressions are very powerful and really underscore the sentiment of the story's plot well. What's really interesting is Tucker's use of angles. There are numerous instances where the panels are delivered with a slanted perspective, which draws more attention to typically one character standing out against the background action.

The premise behind Tet #1 is pretty fascinating, as it brings in a whodunnit approach to what is otherwise a typical war story. There's a lot more to war than just the combat and Tet #1 seems to focus on some of the other aspects of an occupation, relying on a murder of a Marine who may have been more than he was letting on. Allor's script is tinged with the bitterness of a soldier unhappy with the effects of serving in Vietnam on his life. Tucker's art is a little rugged and fits the theme of the story effectively. Tet #1 offers a more complete view of war, tackling one of the ugliest conflicts in the history of the world.

Tet #1 is in stores now.