Glory and guts fly everywhere in Jimmy Pearon’s The Heart of War. Alternating between 1968 Vietnam and 1988 Manhattan, six marines must battle a enemy as ancient as it is deadly, as they discover that war is something who’s heart beasts no matter how many bullets you shoot into a gang of vampires.
On a routine recon patrol, the group of American soldiers discover a sinister evil that predicts the final war for mankind. This evil is armed with an army of monsters that kill without meaning or warning, and the American soldiers find themselves trapped…
The way this story is told does have the unfortunate effect of robbing the plot set in 1968 of any tension and surprise. About 20 years later, most of the soldiers who appeared in 1968 are shown to have settled down into routine, suburban post-war lives, so we’re safe in the knowledge that somehow, most of these men will come out of the troubles they find in 1968 unscathed. Fortunately (and perhaps deliberately) this problem is somewhat rectified by the fact that this 124-page graphic novel is only part one of this story.
In 1988, the terror that the marines had thought they taken care of has apparently risen again, forcing the group to join forces once more, all the while a homeless vigilante appears to know of the coming dangers that the marines face. All in all, the story itself is still gripping, in that even though you’re aware that our G.I Joe-esque heroes escape from danger, you still want to discover how they manage it. There’s even the 1988 portion of the story to tuck into, which is left all the more tantalizing when the novel ends abruptly, and so soon before the action kicks off once more like it did back in 1968.
The murky artwork, provided by illustrator Roland Bird and colourist Valia Kapadai, is totally devoid of joyful colours and creates a decidedly bleak atmosphere that matches the story’s suspenseful pace rather well, which might well be the blood-drenched diamond in this muddy and gut-ridden story. The artwork itself also appears eerily damp, pale and thin, providing an excellent contrast with the story’s action and emphasising the dark, underworld-ly nature of the story itself.
The Heart of War is a brutal and rather darkly humorous take on the effects of war and how individuals cope with living in a post-war environment. Such an environment isn’t made any easier when the days of war linger in your mind, and giant vampire-like monsters are roaming the city you live in – especially when you thought you’d killed them.