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The Losers

Ante Up

(DC Comics/Vertigo; US: Mar 2003)

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Guns, Guile, and a Whole Heap of Guts


The 2004 Eisner Award-nominee for “Best New Series”, The Losers: Ante Up moves like Akira and has all the trappings of a big Hollywood action flick. The setup: a disenfranchised Special Forces Unit, who “saw a little too much at the wrong place and time” are betrayed and left for dead by the C.I.A. They rise up, however, and use the anonymity of death to get back at those who betrayed them. The odds are stacked against them, but they’ve got guns, guile, and a whole heap of guts on their side. Revenge can be one heck of a driving force, and the Losers are hell-bent on winning. It’s no wonder this new series is up for the most coveted award in the comic book industry.


Jock (real name Mark Simpson) and Andy Diggle—a freelance writer, currently under exclusive contract to DC Comics, according to his website—have created a compelling and unique body of work with The Losers. For example, one of the main characters, a female badass named Aisha, is a bit of a phenomenon in the comic book industry, if not in the entertainment industry in general. Her character is closer to Linda Hamilton’s Sarah Conner in Terminator than to, let’s say, Angelina Jolie’s Tomb Raider character Lara Croft. She can blast skulls open and doesn’t need to look glamorous and sexy while doing it. In a genre where heroines are objectified and reduced to the curvaceous, spandex-clad Marvel supermodel-types, Aisha is quite refreshing.


The art of The Losers is eye-popping from cover to cover. Extreme perspective shots, overlapping panels, inventive sound effects, eerily realist facial expressions, and the color overlays set the tone for each scene. All of that would be for naught, however, if Diggle’s writing didn’t serve as the perfect compliment to Jock, Loughridge, and Robins’ work. Diggle knows how to keep the pages turning. The suspense is taut, the plot intricately clever and the dialogue natural, so the story moves easily.


Diggle and Jock seem to have plenty of practice with delivering such stories, with their roots in 2000AD, a British cult, sci-fi comic that’s been around since 1977. The duo are the creators of Lenny Zero and have worked on Judge Dredd. Jock is the recipient of a 2001 National Comic Award for best newcomer, according to 2000ADonline.com.


It’s difficult to decide whether The Losers is about more than just revenge or justice, or if it is simply another conjecture on exactly how wide or deep the shady under workings of the government reach. Again, Diggle may not have intended for readers to go any deeper, but to just take The Losers at face value. The Losers work no matter which way one looks at it, really. But the irony is hard to ignore. Loser? Before this comic book, I wasn’t aware that another definition of the word was “somebody who is unable or unwilling to adjust to society” (Encarta World English Dictionary). Of course, the dictionary also notes that that particular definition is considered and informal insult. But the tech-savvy, sharp-witted disbanded black operatives will always be losers—maybe even after they win, and I’m sure they’d take that as a compliment.

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