Jack Staff: Soldiers

Soldiers collects the first five issues of the second Jack Staff run, when it went from self-publishing (Grist’s Dancing Elephant Press) to being released by Image Comics in color (provided by the talented Phil Elliott).

Jack Staff: Soldiers cover
Jack Staff: Soldiers
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It’s become a more traditional superhero comic in more ways than just publisher and presentation. The story is also simpler, with less subtle themes, more fights, and in my opinion, more incoherence. (Alternately, my lack of understanding of what exactly happened may also be due to my losing interest and reading the end of the book more quickly than I should have.)

The Hurricane, Hulk-like anger made flesh, has escaped from custody. His encounter with Jack Staff 20 years ago promises to shed some light on why the superhero disappeared for two decades. In the present day, normal people are having attacks of murderous rage. Since the Hurricane was a military experiment to create a super-soldier driven by anger, there’s likely some connection. There’s also an electric-powered supervillain complicating things.

Grist makes the point in the afterword that superheroes, especially red-, white-, and blue- costumed ones, need color, but I never thought of Jack Staff as a traditional superhero comic. (In my review of the previous collection, I praise the black-and-white art as best-suited to Grist’s style.) Along with the color seems to have come more direct punch-em-up stories, which I found a little disappointing.

This collection includes the covers from the 12 issues collected in the first book with brief author’s notes.

Grist has also illustrated Absent Friends, a graphic novella from Slave Labor collecting short stories written by Phil Elliott, and St. Swithin’s Day, a story written by Grant Morrison about a disaffected English teen in the mid-80s who wants to assassinate the prime minister.

5 Responses to “Jack Staff: Soldiers”

  1. Johnny B Says:

    I was wondering what you were thinking about the newer Jack Staffs, since the CWR website was one of the first places that I read about the series, and helped lead me to start picking it up.

    The color series has been a bit of a disappointment so far, and it’s hard for me to figure out why exactly. I suppose it’s just that I’m not all that interested in the WWII adventures of Jack; after the B&W series there’s just too much of an air of “seen that”. I’m far more interested in all the modern-day storylines. The latest issue (#10) dealt with just that, and I thought it was one of the best of the run so far.

  2. Johnny B Says:

    And you’re right- despite Elliott’s obvious talent, I too believe that Grist’s art looks better in black & white. It plays to his strengths.

  3. Johanna Says:

    I agree, I’d prefer more modern-day stories myself, and I’m beginning to get confused by the various flashbacks between the 1940s, the 20 years ago period, and current. I’m looking forward to the next collection, whenever it will be, as a good point to look at the storylines overall.

  4. James Schee Says:

    I may have to give the second trade of this a look when it comes about. I loved the original series, but the delays once it moved to Image were just too long, so by the time I got an issue it didn’t seem worth all of the time spent waiting.

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