April 12, 2009

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Losers Volume 5

Written by Andy Diggle
Illustrated by Jock and Colin Wilson
Vertigo

Andy Diggle wraps up his super-spy series (that's set to become a movie, from what I understand) Losers with two story arcs that finally tie all the pieces together.

The Losers, with the only ally in the CIA they can (sort of) trust try to bring Max down once and for all. But before they can do so, Max puts on his power play and changes the shape of the world. With the power affect world politics in a way even his former handlers never envisioned, everything is going Max's way--or is it?

Leave it to the Losers to try what no one else dares to take on. With their lives--and countless thousands of others--on the line, they must be willing to sacrifice everything to get at the man who destroyed their lives. Can they give up family for the cause? Can they give up love? Can they give up their lives?

Well, I'm sure you know the answer to that. But Diggle still manages to make it interesting. He really puts the crew through the ringer, even torturing one of them while the rest have to watch and wait. It's rather harsh to read, but within the context of the story, it works perfectly.

It's hard to discuss this one's main points without wrecking the surprises, but I will say it wraps up all the loose ends in a way that's both entertaining and satisfactory. Steigler, the oil barons, Max's true history (which is particularly clever), Roque, a few one-off ideas that seemed like filller at the time, and the micronational plans all come together in a way that's plausible enough to keep my suspension of disbelief going for the inevitable climax, where things really do end with a bang.

If there's a problem with this one, it's that Diggle really hammers the conspiracy nail pretty hard. He implies super top secret White House backing for Max, our evildoer, and has a fair amount to say about capitalist control of the world. I'm not shocked he went there--the story was definitely trending to a far-left version of the black helicopter theories of the far-right--but it does tend to make a great story drag down a bit as the author puts his personal politics on the page.

(See, I didn't like it in Fables, and I don't think it works here, either.)

Still, the ride is a good one, and Diggle uses his characters to good effect, playing off their character traits to drive the plot (even if one of them ends up being just a bit too stereotypical for my liking). I also appreciate that the series ends after 32 issues, having said all it needs to say. There's no reason to ruin this one by telling additional tales of the Losers. They had a job to complete, and while you might debate if they truly finish the mission, it's definitely over by the time we finish up. Plus, the coda to the story is classic, with Jock's art style meshing perfectly with the digalog, and anything more would ruin it.

Jock, by the way, did a great job on the issues he worked on all through this series. He doesn't draw things perfectly, but he also never falls into the blurred "edgy" style, and we can always tell who the characters are, even in shadow. I'd be happy to see more of his work.

I'd definitely recommend Losers to anyone, and I'm happy to say it's restored my faith in the Vertigo line. This is exactly the type of story Vertigo's there to tell, and I'm glad they did.

Losers Volume 1 Losers Volume 2 Losers Volume 3 Losers Volume 4