book review – GUERILLAS, Volume 2

Hands down, one of the best graphic novels of 2010 was Brahm Revel’s Guerillas. Set during the Vietnam War, Revel’s story revolves around a group of chimpanzees trained in modern combat as part of an experimental U.S. military program. These gun-toting, cigarette-smoking chimps are highly trained killers, and they’ve gone rouge. They cross paths with Private John Clayton, a newly arrived soldier not yet cut out for the brutality of war, whose platoon has been wiped out. Realizing he stands a better chance of survival with the chimps, John joins them as they cut a deadly path through the jungle, killing all the Viet Cong they see. What John and his simian companions don’t know is that they are being tracked by a group of American soldiers led by Captain Stewart, a German scientist, and a killer baboon, all out to capture the chimpanzees.

With the second volume of Guerillas hot off the press, Revel picks up where the first volume left off. John is still stumbling through the jungle following the chimps led by alpha male Goliath, and uncertain of his ability to function in war. Meanwhile, the sinister side of Dr. Heisler and his baboon Adolph begin to emerge, posing a deadly threat to Captain Stewart and his men. And of course, there is a brutal war waging all around.

Drawing a considerable amount of inspiration from comics creators Alex Toth, Bruce Timm, Will Eisner, and Wally Wood, Brahm Revel has crafted a comic story dense with detail. At times Revel manages to pack two or three pages of storytelling on to a single page, but he does so without making the pages or the panels seem crammed or over-crowded—even when there are seven or eight panels to a page. Quite simply, this is incredibly well crafted comic storytelling. Guerillas, Volume 2 is an excellent follow up to the first installment, and Revel has done an amazing job of building tension within the story as it moves toward its conclusion in the third volume. NOTE: This books contains violence and profanity that may not be suitable for younger readers.

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