I used to love The A-Team as a kid. Even now, whenever a repeat happens to be in my path as I flip through the channels, I will watch and enjoy the cheesy writing and the fact that no one ever dies (one of the reasons my parents allowed me to watch it as a kid, I might add). Today, a show like that would probably get laughed off the air (even though there are still plenty of poorly written shows flooding our almost endless number of channels). Leave it to comics, and a couple of Brits to re-vamp not only a long forgotten DC Comics military team, but part of the basic concept that The A-Team was founded on: a disgraced military unit that runs from the United States Government all the while trying to clear their name. The differences come from Andy Diggle’s darker approach to the subject matter and willingness to pull no punches when it comes to raising questions about United States foreign policy.
This version of The Losers has absolutely nothing to do with the Golden Age equivalent, who were a military unit in the DC Universe during World War II and were last seen in Crisis on Infinite Earths. Instead, this new group is an elite military unit that was used for Black Ops missions in the Middle East. The issues of corrupt government and the real reasons for America’s current presence in the Middle East are predominant throughout the series. In the final trade collecting the last two story-arcs, everything comes to a head.
There are few good action-oriented comics on the market today. The Losers was one of the finest and was able to showcase Diggle’s ability to create adrenaline-fueled action scenes with witty and smart dialogue. Accompanied by artist Jock, whose angular artwork only added to the coolness of this title, Diggle was able to create something that is currently on its way to becoming one of the latest in Hollywood comic book movies.
Most action-oriented movies and books that involve political themes are usually quite trite and simple, using public biases and fears to fuel their stories. During the Cold War, the Soviet Union was the predominant “bad guy”, however once Communism fell, new villains were needed. Enter Middle East terrorists, Asian Communist Governments and South American drug lords. All three of these were used as the central villains in action movies over the past fifteen years. Diggle, however, decides that instead of using such clichés, he’s going to use the most overlooked subject as the villain: the American government itself. This could become the new trend in action-oriented fiction; rather than having America vs. some bad country or group, it is Americans vs. the United States Government.
Although The Losers deals with topical and controversial issues in global politics, it never forgets its main objective: high octane action. The advantage of a comic book over a film is that there are no limits to what the comic can do, while a film is restricted by budget and location. The majority of the plot takes place on an oil rig in the Persian Gulf. Diggle keeps the tension high by constantly having one shocking moment follow another. There are betrayals, major deaths, and in the end, the remaining Losers give a big “Screw You!” to the United States Government.
Those wanting an intelligent, action-packed comic should pick up The Losers. In a way, it is sad to see the series end, but at the same time, it is nice to see it come to a satisfying conclusion all the while knowing that both Andy Diggle and Jock got to tell the story they wanted to tell. The five trade paperbacks, collecting thirty-two issues total, are an action-packed, intelligent, roller coaster ride that is among the finest in action oriented comic books. Forget those A-Team DVD box sets, spend your money on The Losers trade paperbacks.