By: Shane-Michael Vidaurri
Publisher: Archaia Entertainment
Format: Hardcover, 6 x 9, 152 pages, Full Color, $24.95
Review by: Eric Campos, special to Diamond BookShelf
There is a cold, binding sense of winter that prevails throughout S.M. Vidaurri's Iron, or The War After. Scenes depict a struggle, a fight raging as deadly as a winter maelstrom. Iron takes place in a land whose people are anthropomorphic creatures, such as foxes and rabbits, but all with human features and awareness. Despite the calm story-book style illustration, this graphic novel delves into very deep themes. It takes on the setting of a post war time period, clearly influenced by the post World War II and Cold War eras.
The story follows James Hardin, a rabbit, whose father was killed while covertly working against the current regime. Vidaurri's work is striking in its depiction of the children of fallen soldiers. How they will go on is something that James and his sister struggle with as they must survive without their father in a still war-torn society. The other characters, both on the side of the resistance and of the government are equally as interesting and deep. Giles (a goat) is a strong, stubborn, and resilient veteran who is torn between despair and continuing the fight for a seemingly lost cause. The cold, cunning Captain Engel of the government is depicted as a tiger to match the ferocity of his character. The story follows both sides of the conflict but seems to hint that all war is, at its core, animalistic.
There is not much outward violence in the comic, and when there is it is illustrated with little blood (if any at all). It is graphic in the sense that the fictional creatures reflect the acts of humans all too well. The story's parallel to our own past (and present) makes this a hard look at humanity's own approach to war and ideals behind it. The color scheme of the comic is stark, again giving the sense of overbearing cold. Primarily using blacks, whites, and blues, this seems to create the idea of a divided world of black and white. Matching the story itself, the style seems to present images that are clear, but not perfectly defined, just slightly obscured. This seems to match a theme of snowfall, blurred vision - oftentimes the views in war times. Enemies, friends, right and wrong, can all become a blur. The style of Iron is well suited to such a complex story.
Teens and up will without a doubt enjoy this book, and make them think not only about the past, but where we as a generation are going. With war's end, is it truly over? How does a country, how do the people, heal? Can they ever?