The Losers #14 Review

Reviewer: Will Cooling
Title: Sheikdown: Pt. 2

Written by: Andy Diggle
Art by: Nike Dragota
Layouts by: Jock
Coloured by: Lee Loughridge
Lettered by: Clem Robbins
Editor: Will Dennis
Publisher: Vertigo > DC Comics

Last issue we saw the Losers end up in Qatar, still on the trial of Max, only to become immersed in plots and deceit centring on the Qatari Royal Family. You see, the Americans fear that its on its last legs and so want to overthrow it and install an American backed puppet government, yet they need a trigger… such as an Islamist uprising. So what they do is set up a unit to provoke such an uprising, a unit that Stegler has been assigned to after being taken off the Max case after his handler was leaned on. Now the Qatari Government has learnt of such an attack organised by Max against the very agent provocateurs and hires the Losers to prevent any deaths in return for information on Max. We left last issue with the attack in earnest and now Stegler must organised a counter attack whilst the Losers rush to his aid…

The political/espionage elements of this book have been moved to the fore in recent issues so it’s nice to see a return to the action sequences of its earlier issues. This is not least because Andy Diggle excels at them managing to wring real drama and tension out of Stegler’s last stand without making him superhuman. He also manages to give the reader a real sense of the cramp surroundings for this fire fight. He also never leaves his characterisation at the door when the Losers go into action. Indeed, with the quips of the likes of Jensen and Pooch, the stealthy and shadowy deadliness of Aisha, the silent, laidback yet explosive nature of Cougar and the machismo of Clay, his characterisation is never more expert than when the shots are firing…except for one brilliantly intense scene just after the shots have stop firing.

That’s not to say this issue is all boys with toys. Diggle does neatly and concisely introduce more elements to the mystery at the heart of The Losers; who is Max. Whilst the supernatural explanation sounds out of tone for the series its not that unbelievable that such a man would gain such a reputation in the Arab world with Clay’s “bemused” reaction a reflection of American scientific rationality. What’s more, with the mystery of the oilrig and illusions to future missions, Diggle manages to create the impression of a worldwide conspiracy with one man pulling the strings.

What’s perhaps most impressive about Diggle’s writing is that he says some pretty radical things about the American Government, but he never lets it get in the way of telling a good story. I really should hate this story due to its political content, which is central to the story and in the hands of a lesser writer I would, but Diggle manages to not only make the conspiracy stuff work as drama but create enough with things like action and characterisation for there to be enough for everyone.
The art is excellent as well with Dragotta producing some messily cartooney work that coupled with Jock’s layouts manages to maintain the artistic feel that Jock has established for the series. Whilst he isn’t as good as Jock (and very few are to be honest), his action sequences are very good and perfectly suited to playing some of the gags in Diggle’s writing, especially the gag-death of one of the terrorists.

In all, another good issue with a healthy mix between plot and action with the characterisation never faltering and some good fill in art. The ending is great as well!