Comic Review: League of Volunteers 1#

This is a very pleasant surprise on a number of points.

First of all it’s set during the Irish Emergency.  A complicated period were Irish only just become a Republic and merely established it’s independence from UK  (if not the British Crown)  in 1922 stayed neutral in World War 2. The fact that a portion of the island of Ireland was still held by the former colonial masters was a source of tension with the British while the effects of unrestricted submarine warfare in the Atlantic and German bombing an Irish city (in the form of Northern Irish – that is British Belfast,)  caused tension with the Germans.  A new and poor country Ireland had a delicate balancing act to perform to maintain it’s independence.  The comic doesn’t go into the history in that much depth but given that this is an ongoing series I suspect that history might be more broadly explored.

The second point on which the comic is very exciting is the art. it’s grey tone with really clear lines and a lovely sense of kinetic energy. There’s a triptych beheading sequence in one panel which is amazing but there is plenty of other good stuff there.  This is really great and adds to the pulp feel of the whole adventure.

The third element I liked is that the show has a feel of Hellboy in the pulp plot (infernal Nazi antics in the Emerald Isle) but it isn’t a beholden to it or feels like a cheap rip-off. It definitely has it’s own texture and style. The characters in the issue have prior relationships which I might speculate on later  which adds to feel of a broader world.

The Big Bad that comes out of this episode should enable future plots to occur but without being wedged into the Emergency context though they will be shaped by it.  Only a handful of the Irish heroes come into play and if I read it right two of them have an adversarial past. I think one might have been a blueshirt (Irish fascists that fought with Franco in Spain) and  another fought with the British in Flanders in the First War  (as many Irishmen did) which should sent up nice tension between them. With another character being a time travelling Druid there’s potentially a lot of conflict with less than half of the team revealed. 

The short version is I’d be interested in picking this up.  I may be a history buff and concentrated in that too much in this review but I don’t think you need that to enjoy the comic that has a firm pulpy undercurrent to it,a  lot of energy and seems to have plenty of ideas in it’s back pocket for a successful run.

I only have one niggle – I don’t think any of the heroes are named. Fortunately ones is named in the end pages and it’s nice to have an element of mystery but it makes it quite tough to go into more depth in a  review.

(And with my uniform nerd hat on – it’s interesting to see the troops in uniform are wearing khaki shades I’d associate with the uniforms the Irish took on 1940 as opposed to the sea-green Free State uniforms  adopted after independence…what where everybody go?)

Seriously though – give this comic a good go. The Creators advise  ‘The book is available exclusively in Ireland and on the creators website  for the first printing which is limited to 500 copies and then will hopefully be solicited through Diamond distributors on the second print.’

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