I don’t generally care for war stories. Maybe it’s because my parents were never able to pass up any random war film showing on TV when I was growing up, but I have next to no interest in war films, TV programmes, games and comics. Except, over the last few years, Vietnam ones. I’m not sure what I find so interesting about the conflict – perhaps the moral complexity of what was a largely futile and pointless war, possibly the almost wholesale rejection of typical jingoistic military story tropes.
One of the first comics to deal with Vietnam in any series way was, well, actually, GI Joe, which had it as part of Snake Eyes, Storm Shadow and Stalker’s backstory. GI Joe under Larry Hama always had a very no-nonsense approach to the military. Sure, these were people fighting guys in steel masks and snake costumes, but the Joes always felt like real people and real soldiers. Fairly cynical ones, admittedly, but real. Flashbacks scenes to Vietnam in GI Joe never trivialised the conflict, treating it with more dignity than you’d expect from a comic existing to hock toys.
It was this directly that led to the launch of The Nam in 1987, a series designed to take Hama’s down-to-earth, no heroes style from GI Joe and apply it to a real conflict. With Hama as editor and Vietnam vet Doug Murray writing, The Nam was a monthly series that followed one squad in the ‘Nam in real time (every issue was set a month after the last), from January 1966 onwards. It promised to follow the war from the perspective of a typical soldier, or lots of them over time, giving a clear look at the conflict as it was on the ground. Read the rest of this entry »