From its opening narration, Lost Soldiers #1 quickly established the kind of war story it would be. Instead of glorifying violence, it asked, “Who thought this was a good idea?” and, more importantly, “How did we get to this point?” It’s a heavy read both in terms of pacing and content but allows for much more breathing room in Lost Soldiers #2. And despite lingering questions, such as what exactly our characters are doing in present day Juarez, the themes remain strong and present. Artwork and colors by Casalanguida and Moore, respectively, also get to flex a more subdued style with an issue that’s less explosive than its first, which was already quite introspective.
In this second issue, Lost Soldiers opens with dialogue between tentative “friends,” soldier Hawkins and sergeant Kowalski. After their violent encounter with sergeant Burke, both soldiers seem to have a mutual understanding that they stand together. But the old wartime adage of not getting too close to anyone still rings true in Lost Soldiers. Both characters speak in short and frank sentences, never wanting to intrude too much but still wanting to find camaraderie. Casalanguida’s art also captures this with the drained faces of characters expressing a silent trauma. It’s a far cry from the previous issue where the first piece of dialogue is whether or not John Wayne is a better hero than Superman.
Continuing from the first issue is Kot’s haunting and mysterious narrative text. Painting a picture of violence and death, the narration builds an appropriate air of dread and suspense. However, it also borders on being a bit too wordy and threatens to halt the pacing. Thankfully, the artwork keeps up the forward momentum from the first issue. Whether it’s soldiers quietly marching through the lush jungles of Vietnam or a row of unmarked vehicles silently rolling through a sleeping Juarez, Casalanguida’s art helps with any pacing issues Lost Soldiers may have had otherwise. The setting also feels appropriately subdued thanks to Moore’s muted colors, especially during the nighttime sequences in Juarez. Lettering by Bidikar continues to be clean and expressive when the need arises.
Lost Soldiers continues to do what its first issue did best. The narration remains powerful and atmospheric, even if a bit wordy at times. However, Casalanguida and Moore’s art corrects any pacing issues with subdued yet expressive work. Characters are short and curt when talking to each other, but their cold expressions reveal something hidden, and possibly developing, underneath. Muted colors also add to the clandestine and mysterious nature of what’s occurring in Juarez and the dour mood in Vietnam after last issue’s events. Though Lost Soldiers may still be too much of a slow-burn for some, next issue promises to pick things up. In any case, Kot’s work will always at least make you think, and I’m excited to see where these last few issues take us.
Lost Soldiers #2
- Writer: Aleš Kot
- Artist: Luca Casalanguida
- Colorist: Heather Marie Lawrence Moore
- Letterer: Aditya Bidikar
- Cover Artists: Luca Casalanguida, Heather Marie Lawrence Moore
- Designer: Tom Muller
- Production Artist: Ryan Brewer
- Publisher: Image Comics