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Comic Review: The Light and Darkness War

Light 3Tom Veitch (Elseworlds, Tales of the Jedi, Star Wars Dark Empire) and Cam Kennedy (Boba Fett, Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D., Punisher, Star Wars Dark Empire) join forces in one of their most captivating team-ups. The Light and Darkness War, originally printed in 1989, centers around Vietnam Veteran Lazarus Jones. Jones lost his legs in Vietnam in a helicopter explosion that killed four of his brothers-in-arms and closest friends. Within the first few pages it’s revealed that Jones is suffering from PTSD and wishes he had died with his friends. He is leaning on alcohol and drugs to handle his grief.

After visiting the Vietnam Memorial with his devoted wife, Jones is involved in a car accident that leaves him in a coma. While his body lays still in a hospital bed, his spirit starts to drift through a vague and abstract space. Everything begins to come together again and Jones finds himself in an unfamiliar place, with his legs intact.

As immediately as Jones is transcended into this strange place, he finds himself confronted with another oddity, his brothers-at-arms gathered together on a single ship. As the shock wears off, his friends inform him of the war at hand. The battle between light and darkness is all consuming in this new dimension. It’s a war that consumes their allies, turns an otherwise beautiful dimension to a bloody battlefront; it’s a war that never ends.

This book serves as an extended metaphor for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. The actual war has been over for more than a decade but for the soldiers it still lives on. Jones leaves half of himself in the world as we know it while surrendering his other half to a place where reality is suspended and he can be with his friends, a soldier once more. He retreats further into himself, giving into the conflict and turmoil. This discord between light and darkness may not be an ideal place to stay but it’s a familiar one; a place Jones can deal with, free of guilt or unpleasant memories.

Light 1Light 2This unpleasant dimension is artfully crafted by writer and artist alike. Tom Veitch delves into era specific language to help create a dimension cemented between the late 1960s and early 1970s. Every line sounds authentic as peppered by the occasional slang; waxin’, waste ya’, or dig it. Cam Kennedy adds to the authenticity with art reminiscent of a Joe Kubert style, not rich in color but great depth in shading. Every panel wordlessly reminds that the dimension is desolate of peace and traditional happiness. Kennedy’s costume and character design remains strictly of the Vietnam era even when incorporating extra-dimensional beings. The design seamlessly creates a past era while the slight contrast jarringly places the reader in a different dimension.

Not only is this a great read, with great social context, it’s magnificently eye-catching without being drawn in an over dramatic style. Though this is a reprint over 20 years past its original publication, it still stands up to criticism. It’s a classic that deserves respect and a place on every person’s bookshelf.

WRITER: Tom Veitch
ARTISTS: Cam Kennedy
FORMAT: 208 pages, HC, FC,
PUBLISHER: Titan Comics
PRICE: $24.99/ $27.95 CAN/ £17.99 UK
ISBN: 9781782761808

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