Sometimes, the most poignant graphic novels aren’t the ones that have people in tights punching each other. Sometimes, they take the form of down to earth stories like Luke Henderson’s OUR WAR: The Truth Untold. America is on the brink of complete social collapse, and a political radical called Nestor is joined by an economic refugee called Emma on a journey to get to Canada for the hope of a better life. Henderson sent a copy to The Comic Vault in exchange for an honest review.
“Notions of chivalry are out of place in warfare….any type of warfare. Such talk is merely propaganda for imbeciles. Criminality and murder become heroism. The truth goes untold. What nobility is there in all that? Better, I reckon, to speak the cruel truth than peddle falsehoods.”
The story begins with Emma arriving in New York, looking for a job. Within minutes, her purse is stolen and the thief is shot in the head by a member of the local militia. Instead of saving her, the militia member holds Emma at gun point and takes her money. Then, he pistol whips her and leaves her for dead.
When Emma wakes up, she’s pulled off the street by Nestor and they hide in an abandoned building from the militia. One of them breaks in and Nestor beats him to death with a baseball bat. Emma is shocked, and it highlights the brutality of the world. Good men can stoop as low as bad men if it means they need to survive.
The pair escape and Nestor takes them to a grizzled and bitter old man called Sheppard. While they’re hiding out, Nestor and Emma argue over what it means to be a terrorist. Nestor reveals he was part of the Left Hand Path, a group of disenfranchised people who stormed the White House and killed the President and several other politicians because they were tired of watching their country go to hell. Nestor took no pleasure in what he did, but he felt it was necessary.
The militia catch up to them and the trio go down into the sewers. They come across an underground society led by El Hefe. He tries to convince them to join the commune, but when they refuse, he agrees to let them go, so long as they don’t tell anyone about the location. His solution is to carve their eyes out. Sheppard sacrifices himself so Nestor and Emma can get away. Emma gets shot, but Nestor looks after her and they plan their escape to Toronto.
OUR WAR is a very relevant to the current political climate in America. There’s a lot of fear and uncertainty, with people lashing out. I was reminded of an Eminem song called ‘We As Americans’ and the following lyrics can be used to describe the story:
We as a Americans, us as a citizen
Gotta protect ourselves, look at how shit has been
We better check ourselves, living up in these streets
Through worse and through better health, surviving by any means
We as Americans, us as a citizen
We are Samaritans, what do we get us in
We better check ourselves, look at how shit has been
Take a look where you live, this is America
And we are Americans
I don’t rap for dead presidents; I’d rather see the president dead
It’s never been said, but I set precedents
And the standards and they can’t stand it
Henderson doesn’t shy away from violence, but it’s not done for the sake of it. Political hatred is a real threat and it can incite people to do terrible things. Nestor comes across as jaded before his time, while Emma is forced to adapt to the horror around her. Their relationship is complicated and it’ll be interesting to see how it develops in later issues.
The vivid art is handled by Michael Derrah, who makes every page pop with sneering faces and political rage. The backgrounds are gorgeous, with New York painted as a dystopia that’s crumbling around its citizens.
OUR WAR Volume 1 is an effective commentary on the American government, so it will appeal to the politically minded and anyone who likes a good dystopian drama. You can buy it from Credible Threat Press now.