Arrowsmith Vol. 1
“So Smart in their Fine Uniforms” (Issues 1-6)
Writer: Kurt Busiek
Art: Carlos Pacheco
Cover Price: $14.95
In a world just a side step from our reality exists the home of Fletcher Arrowsmith, a young Vermont native, who’s drawn into a war to end all wars. It’s a war very much like World War I, except it has trolls, dragons, vampires and wizards. All the rest is there: deadly gas attacks, trench warfare and battlefields strewn with bodies.
The story starts out with a supply drive in a small Vermont town. There, Fletcher Arrowsmith comes in contact with the “flying aces” of the war effort. These adventures don’t pilot biplanes. In this world, they borrow the power of flight from dragons and engage in aerial sword fights as they blast across enemy lines.
Wooed by the dream of adventure and excitement, Arrowsmith joins the service and trains to become a member of the Overseas Aero Corps. He learns the ins and outs of spell casting and dragon flight. Along the way, he pairs up with a rich debutante who joins the ambulance corps.
It isn’t long before Arrowsmith is shipped out to Europe where he witnesses — and even commits — some of the worst sins of war. It’s that dual aspect that makes “Arrowsmith” such an enjoyable read. Sure, it’s fairly typical alternate-history storywriting, but it’s compelling. Writer Kurt Busiek manages to evoke all of the key points of World War I — from the arms race it fueled to the nasty propaganda to the prestige held by the “Red Baron”-style fighter pilot — and build it into an entertaining story.
While this volume isn’t with out its dangling questions (Who is this Blood Emperor guy? Why doesn’t the Aero Corps use full-size dragons? And what is the real strategic purpose of the Corps anyway?), it’s still an interesting jump into a different reality.