Iron Squad #1
- Story: Jean-Luc Sala
- Art: Ronan Toulhoat
- Publisher: Delcourt/Soleil
- Distributor: ComiXology
- Digital Release: July 5th, 2015
Description: “On the Eastern front, as the last resistance of the Red Army falters, General Joukov gathers together the Red Commandos in order to save Moscow from the approaching Nazi threat.
“In their mechanized armor, the greatest heroes of the Red Army participate in a last chance operation, to take hold of the greatest Nazi Mekapanzer and turn it against the German army!”
History reimagined is not a new concept on the storytelling front. But what’s new in this WWII retelling – mostly to US readers – is that America isn’t a factor. At least not in the first issue. Instead, what state-side readers get is an Earth where the Nazis won and the last bastion of the USSR poses the reich’s final threat. Stalin and the big red machine play rebel scum to Hitler’s evil empire.
The book opens on the final moments of a harrowing mission on the verge of failure. After a last minute save by the cavalry, we’re introduced to Tania Yakvolev, the bombshell heroin who’s defying her gender’s expectations, proving not even new world results will change old world prejudice. Mother Russia’s absolute desperation is quickly revealed along with one last globe-saving plan led by our protagonist. The story has a very Hunger Games meets Nazi Star Wars feel to it. You can’t help but root for the hometown girl putting her land before her life, despite the first half of Captain Jean-Luc Sala’s story being a little light. The second half feels much more intimate and interesting once all the players are introduced. The reader’s stage is less than crowded while still managing to relay the sense of scope and danger.
What’s really going to make you fall in love with this book is the art. Tackling everything from pencils to colors, Ronan Toulhoat delivers detailed, dynamic scenes with cinema-esque perspectives in every panel. A mixture of tight detailing, exaggerated anatomy and wonderfully toned colors, every turn of the page offers a treat. I can’t wait to see what Toulhoat does with a battlefield full of German robots and Communist insurgents.
One fact some might miss is that, despite the Eastern Block vibe, this comic is a French import. And though the dialogue is translated, there are some very different beats that stand out from a typical American comic. Right away you’ll notice the slightly different shape and spacing of the dialogue and narration boxes. A second thing is the sheer number of panels on each page. Even with the added visual realestate, each box is crammed with content. More art, more scenes, more eye-candy. The pacing and cadence to each character’s words successfully reads Eastern European, just through a French filter. All of which make for a more interesting read as the book not only offers a Euro take on this alternate universe, it exposes fans to a whole new comic flavor.