Arrowsmith #5 Review

Reviewer: Chris Delloiacono
Story Title: Chapter 5: Atrocity

Written by: Kurt Busiek
Penciled by: Carlos Pacheco
Inked by: Jesus Merino
Colored by: Alex Sinclair
Lettered by: Rob Steen
Assistant Editor: Kristy Quinn
Editor: Scott Dunbier
Publisher: Wildstorm > DC Comics

Storytelling with an impact

With Arrowsmith, Kurt Busiek continues to prove that he is one of the finest storytellers in the comic book industry. This medium allows talented creators to bring us to strange worlds and witness even wilder occurrences. Busiek excels at bringing us to places we’ve never been to, or even dreamed existed. Yet, somehow, his characters and even many situations ring true with the real world. He’s able to talk about contemporary issues and themes, yet keep them in the context of a fantasy story. The result is thought provoking material that also takes us away from reality for a little while.

Arrowsmith is about an alternate Earth where magic has had a decided impact on the development of the world. It’s 1915 and the Great War is raging, but this is a war unlike any we have ever seen. Dragons, trolls, wizards, and spell casting Airmen are in the thick of the fight. Busiek’s knowledge of history and his ability to weave that into a fine tapestry of realistic-fantasy has made Arrowsmith one of the finest books of 2003 on into 2004.

Characters that you love…

The thing that makes Arrowsmith standup are the characters. Much like Mark Waid’s Empire miniseries did in a limited amount of time, Kurt Busiek has fashioned a wonderful cast that is realistic to the setting they’re in, and ones that we can also relate to. Too many comics are stuck with cardboard characterization or the same old, uninteresting cookie-cutter types that we’ve seen for 40 or more years. Not here! The characters in this book are some of the most rich, and vibrant to come down in a long time. When I pick the new issue up, I want to know what’s next for the characters I love—the action is secondary. There is no greater compliment that I can bring to a writer than that.

Each issue, for the most part, has told one complete story. Busiek has used his five issues, thus far, to great effect. While there are grand battles, and epic set pieces, they aren’t there just to showoff Carlos Pacheco’s fantastic artwork. This is the best kind of comic you can read, a character driven book with a clear arc for the characters. Oh, the story advances, and a lot, but like I’m harping on, it’s all about Fletcher Arrowsmith, Grace, and the other fine characters we’ve met thus far.

This month, the idea of super weapons, or weapons of mass destruction if you will, and the impact they can have on not only those that are on the receiving end, but the ones that must deploy them. I can only imagine what it feels like to kill in war, and really cannot fathom how a person must feel if they are the one to deploy mass-killing weapons in the real world. Kurt Busiek sure gives me a better idea with this wonderful script about how far war can be taken.

This is one of the finest comics to come out thus far this year, and I’m excited for the conclusion of this mini next month. I can only hope that the next miniseries doesn’t take too long to arrive, because Kurt’s got me more than hooked…I think I’m addicted.