Issue by Issue – War is Hell #9

Writers – Tony Isabella, Roy Thomas, Chris Claremont
Artist – Dick Ayers
Inker – Frank Springer
Colours – Phil Rachelson
Letters – Charlotte Jetter

The book and the scene open up with a man named John Kowalski walking amongst horror, bodies strewn everywhere and he is rightfully horrified. He questions why all of these innocent people had to die as a cloaked figure, presumably, Death, stands off to the side. As he surveys his surroundings, he spies an old man who curses him out for being a coward after which he is promptly attacked and knocked unconscious. He flashes back to 1937 when he was busted down and kicked out of the army, guilty of espionage and high treason. Moving to Poland, he begins again, living a life far too ordinary and he hates it and himself. He meets an older man who warns him that Germany is about to attack and Kowalski scoffs at it, preferring to get drunk instead of considering anything that does not pertain to him. So it is the Germans attacked, bombing and killing millions which leads to the present. Scripted by Chris Claremont after being plotted by Tony Isabella and Roy Thomas, the book comes to live up to its name with this first issue which is not a reprint of older material. Drawn by Dick Ayers and Frank Springer, it looks fantastic and delivers both a war story and a good dose of horror too. As it is, Death, who had been sitting quietly on the sidelines, finally speaks up as Kowalski notices him. Things get very interesting as the book progresses at this point, John’s attacker doing so again as they fight to the death with a little girl’s life in the balance as well. Something happens during all of this, more specifically a building falls on top of the two men and Death reveals to John that he is dead, this first conversation does not go as John would like it to. All of this leaves a nagging question in the mind of the reader, making them wonder if Kowalski had been dead all along given that Death appeared during the first pages of the book or if Death had simply been waiting for him. As the book leaves off, John is still dead and now a ghost and yet he remains the star of the title, cursed by the old man he refused to listen to and cursed to die a thousand times over and more before he is finally allowed to rest. A great start to a new serial within the book, giving it new life so to speak that makes readers want to continue onwards.

4 out of 5

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