The press release that came with the review copy of Lost Squad describes it as, “The Dirty Dozen meets Indiana Jones by way of the X-Files”. This manner of description, comparing a new project to similar projects that came before it, is a popular way of pitching ideas in Hollywood. Studios want the project described in 25 words or less and the above is the easiest way to do this. But a lot of times this leads to an unfair comparison for the project they are trying to sell. In this case, does Lost Squad compare favorably to The Dirty Dozen, Indiana Jones or X-Files? Is it an unfavorable comparison? Or is this just hyperbole by the Devil’s Due publicist?
The plot of the first issue of Lost Squad concerns the squad trying to liberate a supernatural artifact, the Second Seal of Revelations, from the clutches of the Nazis. If it is broken, one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, War, will be released. Naturally, this is not something that you would want to have fall into evil hands. Of course, after the Squad steals the Seal, the Germans attack to try and get it back.
The issue is self-contained and written in a fast-paced, action-packed style. Kirby gives each major character enough personality so that we gain interest in them. The minor characters are given less definition, but enough personality traits so you can recognize them. The villains aren’t as clearly defined as the lead characters, but they really don’t need to be. They’re Nazis. Nazis are evil. No further explanation necessary. The story moves with nary a break, it’s action from cover to cover. The issue is filled with gunfights, car chases, and hand-to-hand combat, like any good war comic should be.
The artwork is good, if a little cartoon-like at times. Robinson does well with portraying the action scenes, making them exciting and easy to follow. You get the feeling that you are watching a good action movie. The only flaw that one can find with the artwork is that Robinson draws most of the character’s faces so that they look the same. In a superhero book, this isn’t that bad. We can tell them apart by their costumes. In a war book, however, this could be fatal. They are all wearing essentially the same costume, a military uniform. In a more serious book, this could be a chance for some commentary on the dehumanizing aspect of war, or the fact that soldiers become anonymous in the face of battle. But, this isn’t that type of book, and there’s no room for such moralizing and pontificating. Robinson appears to realize the problem with his art, because he gives each character some sort of physical characteristic to set them apart. The Sergeant constantly has a cigarette hanging from his mouth; another squad member has some fuzz on his chin, and so on. This helps a little to differentiate the characters.
In the end, how does Lost Squad measure up to the movies it was compared to in the publicist’s letter? The most accurate comparison is the Indiana Jones one. The book has the same non-stop, edge of your seat pacing that the Indiana Jones films have, and Indy had to rescue his fair share of supernatural items from the Nazis. However, Lost Squad has more in common with Sgt. Rock than The Dirty Dozen, and the book takes itself less seriously and is more fun than your average X-Files episode.
Overall, Lost Squad is a fun, fast-paced read, an enjoyable departure from the usual comic book fare. It doesn’t quite live up to its TV and movie comparisons, but for those who enjoy tales of the supernatural and Nazis (and who doesn’t?) it serves its purpose.