I am most aware of Josh Blaylock’s work in the Devil’s Due era of G.I.Joe. Back in the early 2000’s his company, which he founded, brought Joe back into action in the comic world. He picked up after the Marvel Comic by Larry Hama, and threw in some nod’s to the toon, character twists, and brand new faces as he kicked off what would become the DDP Joeverse,I still lament the loss of it today. This is a very different book.
We had previously had Sam Wells, who also worked at DDP, on the podcast, and I knew he was going to have Josh Blaylock at his booth (Toy de Jour) at Joecon. I looked forward to meeting him for the first time in person. I don’t recall if we met until we were both at the Wake for Gary Head, and I think we ended up talking for near an hour. I asked him what he was doing now, and he shared with passion about this new graphic novel, and the history behind it. I know this is a long-winded intro to a review, but I felt like I need to share that this passion, shines through into the book and given the subject matter, not only can I see why, but I can greatly appreciate it and find common cause in the desire to share this story with as many as possible.
The Armenian genocide that happened in Turkey before WWII was shockingly brutal, and yet you may have never heard of it. This tale takes you through part of it, and shows you an act of vengeance, primarily through the eyes of Soghomon Tehlirian. His tale is astonishing. In 1921, he shot the former leader of Turkish Ottoman Empire in Berlin, Talaat Pasha, and Soghomon never denied it, yet walked away a free man. The vengeance killing opened the doors to spread news about the horrific slaughter of over 1,500,000 Armenians and other minorities, primarily Christian. Talaat Pasha claimed he was deporting them, but documents admit he was deporting them to their death.
This presentation of history can be hard to read at times but the visual format presents it in a unique and impactful way. The arrangement of newspaper clippings and additional sources for information draw you not only into the story but at least for this reader, drew my heart to the victims of this tragedy. The newspaper clipers also lengtehened the content of reading, giving you an extra bang for your book, although I think it is already worth the 18.99 cover price.
Silva’s art has a style that is refreshing in this era of super hero exposure. His art often is symbolic, captures movement, and seems more interested in conveying a story and emotion, than many other mainstream books would allow. This style is wonderful for story telling, but here as it’s paired with such a tragic story, it more powerful communicates emotion and that makes it perfect for what was written.
There are head shots, there is foul language, but it never feels gratuitous. It’s there because it’s real, and because we shouldn’t over gloss such an important piece of history, or it would lose much of its impact. Mature readers only, but please give this a read, everyone needs to know this story.It reminds us of an important lesson and tells us of a forgotten horror. History repeats, don’t be silent, don’t cover your eyes when you see evil on the March. Turkey still denies the events to this day, and attempts to silence talk about the massacres. Currently we see ISIS slaughtering Christians by the entire village, they are spiritual descendents of Talaat Pasha, who committed his crimes before Hitler. The silence of so many in the face of horror even emboldened Hitler as he said, ” Who, after all, still speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?” (August 1939, in preparation of the Invasion of Poland, as quoted within Operation Nemesis)
Spies, apparitions of a dead family, flashbacks, revenge,courtroom drama, an evil on Par with the Nazi’s and even Nazi’s themselves all presented only as comics could allow. Give this a read!
(and I don’t give that score lightly or often)