Unknown Solder v.2: Easy Kill
Written by Joshua Dysart
Illustrated by Alberto Ponticello & Pat Masioni
Colored by Oscar Celestini & José Villarrubia
Lettered by Clem Robbins
Covers by Dave Johnson
I missed v. 1 of this series, so I’m trying to get up to speed here. Set in the midst of a brutal and horrifying (oh, and real) civil war – terrorist action might also be an apt descriptor – Easy Kill follows Dr. Moses Lwanga on a quest of vengeance and forgiveness. Horribly scarred by a Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) assault, Lwanga wraps his mutilated face in bandages and sets about a quest for revenge.
In this volume, potential allies enlist Lwanga’s aid to assassinate a Hollywood starlet; their agenda to blame the LRA for the killing should bring international attention to the plight of the forgotten continent. The starlet is working with Lwanga’s wife on a fund-raising dinner in memorial of Lwanga himself, leading to a conflict inside and outside the book’s hero. It’s easy to guess that he doesn’t kill the starlet in the end, except he does murder dozens of innocents in this book, so don’t be too sure. Later, Lwanga also escorts an orphan boy, once forcibly drafted into the LRA army, to his home village.
Easy Kill is a violent book, full of darkness and anger, and Lwanga chokes on its own regrets throughout. Dysart does a fine job getting into his protagonist’s head, showing us his dreams and visions of failure and murder. The conflicted desires for revenge and for peaceful life are played well. The political situation is slightly unclear – perhaps because I’ve not read the first book in the series, and because this book focuses on Lwanga’s conflicted nature rather than the causes of conflict – but Dysart doesn’t really offer up good guys vs. bad guys anyway. It’s an ugly, complicated world.
Ponticello and Masioni, the series’ illustrators, both provide solid artwork. Each offers detailed backgrounds and angular, world-weary characters, set in a clear-to-follow grid. A few angles are jarring, but most experienced comic readers won’t even notice. Neither artist’s work transcends that page, but both are solid professionals ably abetting Dysart’s vision.
Driven by challenging moral quandries, Unknown Soldier’s second book, Easy Kill, is a gutsy, scary tale of loss, of a man committed to actions that terrify and repulse him, of a young boy terrified of the world he’s been taken from, of a woman torn between the man her husband has become and the man she remembers. It’s unflinching, violent and extremely empathetic. The big problems of the world do not have easy answers, but Unknown Soldier is seeking them anyway.