- Super Soldiers: A Salute to the Comic Book Heroes & Villains Who Fought For Their Country
- Mango Publishing
- Written by Jason Inman
- Available now (in paperback, digital, & audiobook formats)
Before I go too far into this piece, I feel the need to point out a few things. First of all, I am a veteran. I served in the Marine Corps from 1988-1992. It was a very long time ago, and to be perfectly honest I’ve lost track of how much those years have stuck with me. I’ve been reassured that I do still act very much the Marine (for better or worse), particularly in times of stress. I realize that my outlook continues to be influenced by my military service in several ways (again, for better or worse), and it’s one of the things that’s flavored many of the articles I’ve written for thePullbox. Titles like Rags , and Motor Girl (Semper Fi) will always hold a special place in my heart- and on my bookshelf- for their beautiful & brutally honest portrayals of how veterans will always carry the weight of their service, even/especially after they’ve left the combat zone behind them. Likewise books written by veterans, about and for veterans, are going to stand out to me as perspectives that are increasingly important as more and more combat veterans leave the military and try to return to their “normal” civilian lives.
Jason Inman is an Army veteran who was stationed in Iraq in 2005. Having “grown out of” (note the use of sarcastic quotes because those of us who get it know that it’s never something you grow out of) the comics he’d read for years in his youth, Jason was reintroduced to that world when he pulled an issue of Marvel’s Ultimate X-Men out of a care package from the states. He had questions and concerns, but most importantly he found that while stationed in a strange place, far from home and everything he knew and loved, he could still count on comicbooks to find a much needed tether. Since then, he’s kicked off his own YouTube channel (Jawiin) and has spearheaded several drives to collect comics and trades to be sent over to our active duty servicemen and women currently deployed.
Not gonna lie, I’ve got a little bit of a nerd crush for this guy.
At its core, Super Soldiers is an examination of the comicbook characters who began their careers through military service. Each chapter is a deep dive into the core values and personal motivations of a specific character that pulls no punches. Inman digs in and takes a good long look at the likes of Captain America, James “Rhoady” Rhoades (aka: War Machine), and Carol Danvers (Captain Marvel). He brings up their highs and lows, how each character is influenced by their military service and how they live up to the standards of their branch… as well as how they may have failed to exemplify those traits on occasion.
For the hardcore fans out there, those who may believe they already know all that there is to know about the characters they love, let me assure you that Inman doesn’t just pick at the low hanging fruit like the Punisher, Sgt Rock, or Green Lantern (Stewart & Jordan both have a chapter). He goes into the archives and digs out characters like Gravedigger, Isaiah Bradley, and even Beetle friggin Bailey. Hey, when I use the words “deep dive” in a review, I mean it. Inman researched each and every character he picked for his book, and dug in like he was rooting for truffles.
Super Soldiers is an extremely entertaining and informative read. Jason Inman gives some valuable insight into the mind of our heroes, real & in comics, the people who have signed over a blank check for their country and exemplify the word service. He does it without a hint of judgement levied on those who have not make that choice, only as a way to shine a light into the corners and maybe open up some dialogue on an important subject. His writing is full of dry humor as he talks about a subject that’s near and dear to all of our hearts… superheroes.
If we didn’t like reading and/or talking about people in tights, would any of us even be here right now?