Issue by Issue – War is Hell #12

Writer – Chris Claremont
Artist – Don Perlin
Inker – Dave Hunt
Colours – Janice Cohen
Letters – Joe Rosen

Colonel Sessue Takeda of the Imperial Japanese Army is dead, having been killed two weeks previous and yet he lives, thanks in part to John Kowalski and the curse he bears to die more than a thousand deaths and in part to Death itself who will not let the man rest. Things are different this time around though as Takeda has far more control over his life than Kowalski has, the man now finding himself a mere passenger unable to do anything other than watch as things unfold and he does not like it in one bit. Death simply laughs and John swears he will foil whatever plan it is that Death has but so far, everything has been for naught. Enter a woman named Tsuin, a woman who is far more than familiar to Kowalski and it transports him back in time to when he was but a young soldier and getting into trouble. Chris Claremont dives into what might have been the only time that John Kowalski felt any type of affection or love during his adult life and he does so by painting it all with the most compelling of brushes. A story of love unfolds, one of frustration and consternation during a time of war and Kowalski thinks it all but impossible for a woman such as Tsuin to fall in love with him, what with the two different worlds that they represent. There is some action that takes place and of course, there comes some tragedy as readers might guess as Kowalski is dead as the book opens. That tragedy soon makes its presence known and it ends up being quite sad as Kowalski and Tsuin fall in love far deeper than they ever thought they would and yet, the war interferes with that bonding. At first, John receives a beating from Tsuin’s brother, the man unwilling to listen to reason and when John comes to, danger has come a-knocking and guns are drawn and fired by accident on those that should have been saved instead of killed. It is at that moment that Tsuin’s heart is broken and when their love dies. Cut back to the future and Claremont gives them that tiny bit of a reunion that they never had a chance at before in life and as a bonus, it allows Kowalski to refute Death in this one thing before dying once more. Don Perlin and Dave Hunt draw it all superbly and not only drive home the drama of this piece but the horror of the ever-looming spectre of Death who waits with bated breath as it were for what he claims is his. Another great story in a title that gets better with every issue.

4.5 out of 5

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