The Losers (Book One)
by Andy Diggle
illustrated by Jock
DC Comics/Vertigo (2010)
ISBN 9781401227333 (second printing)
Even before The Losers movie came out, even before I got back into reading comics, I had heard about this series and thought it sounded promising. It took nearly seven years to get around to reading it, but I finally did. After seeing the movie first though, which left a bit of a sour taste in my mouth as evidenced in my Rabid Rewind review, I wondered if the graphic novel would hold up as well as I first thought.
In a word: yes.
It's pretty simple for an action story, I suppose, though it gets a little thick around the middle as the story progresses. A team of military roughnecks called the Losers--an actual "A" Team--supposedly killed in action back in '98, have resurfaced to track down the CIA operative who betrayed them and nearly got them killed. Max. But, they don't know who Max is or even what he looks like, which is kind of a problem, since they need him so they can clear their names and get their lives back. So, they set out to sabotage the global drug running operations and other criminal activities that Max is overseeing, while collecting evidence against him and clues about his identity--and all while the world either thinks they're dead or gone rogue against American interests.
Each character has his quirks and mannerisms, even to the point of being a bit of a cliche, but the camaraderie works and makes for a gang of gun-toting bad-asses that you root for. Clay is the grizzled leader with a no-nonsense attitude, Pooch is the wheel man and the middle-age family man who just wants to get back to his family, Roque is the hard-as-nails prick, Jensen is the wise-cracking techno geek, Cougar is the sniper and man of few words, and the newcomer to the group is Aisha, a CIA agent with a huge chip on her shoulder and an unearthly talent with blades.
I dig heists, gun fights, and cool motherfuckers spouting one-liners. Some of the movies that come out these days just don't hold that same magic from the movies of the seventies and eighties. But, Diggle and Jock brought some of that good stuff into the 21st century and up-rezzed it for today's audience. And the illustrations offer up the kind of gritty visual you might expect from a story like this. The pacing is great, but it's easy to see how the film adaptation needed to parse a few key items rather than offer an expansive look at this graphic novel. There's a lot more meat on the bone and Diggle plays it for all it's worth.
It's an impressive start to the series and I really did wind up wanting more once I hit the final page. Definitely interested to see what the second volume has in store.