Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Crogan's March

What I try to do with reviews at this Bookshelf blog is keep it simple and spoiler-free, and let you know whether I'd recommend you pick up a copy of what I just read. Seems to work okay. This time, a brief review of Crogan's March (Oni, 2010)

I've had the great pleasure of speaking with Chris Schweizer a couple of times now, and have been looking forward to the second Crogan book for what has seemed like ages. Since each story in the planned 15-volume adventure series is a single 160-odd-page comic, these don't arrive as quickly as anyone would prefer. There's a lot of research and development that goes into each book even before the creator lays out the action and the pacing, which must take forever, and the books' front and endpieces lay out the Crogan family tree, so readers can speculate on what action is around the corner.

This time out, we're introduced to Peter Crogan, the great-great-great-somethin' grandson of the hero of the first adventure. Peter is finishing out his contract in the French Foreign Legion around 1912, occupying hostile territory in northern Africa, when he gets a blustering new officer whose recklessness might keep him from ever going home. From sandstorms to thieves to desperate men fighting in the desert, this story hits all the genre's tropes, and executes them very well, ending with a remarkable, unexpected climax.

I really like looking at Schweizer's artwork and following the action on the pages. Once in a while, he does sort of lose me with an occasional character design - there's a fellow in here with a chin so mighty that he doesn't look human anymore - but I just love the attention to costume and period detail, and the great, sweeping, thick lines that carry the action from frame to frame. Even the sound effects accentuate the art, with the noise of a machine gun punctuating the panels and the characters' movement.

Schweizer is planning to create 15 adventures in this saga, with the third, set in 1776, due next. I've still got my fingers crossed that he'll tell the story of "Calloway" Crogan, the 1950s PI, sooner rather than later, but whatever order these are released, it's definitely a series worth following. Possibly not for the youngest of readers, but this book and its predecessor are happily recommended for anybody aged eleven and up.

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