‘Convoy of Corpses:’ Comic Book Review

A rookie BBC news crew is paired with a veteran team of US soldiers for a dangerous transport from Kandahar to Naw Abad in the one shot comic Convoy of Corpses, which was created and written by Kelly Bender and illustrated by Van Choran. The journalists have a very naïve view of how to record their experiences along the trip, but, by the end of the trip, they’ve seen firsthand why Afghanistan’s Highway #1 has been dubbed “highway to hell.”

I was personally drawn to the concept of Convoy of Corpses, because a business associate spent a year at Camp Eggers in Kabul, Afghanistan. While he was fortunate enough to be placed in a position inside the camp, we focused on reports of the various roadside bombings, etc. to remind us that Afghanistan was, and is still, a dangerous no-man’s land for outsiders. The comic touched on some of the most frequent dangers for convoys in the region - IEDs, suicide bombers, and snipers - while also explaining the fragile political situation to readers.

I found the basic background and explanations about life in Afghanistan fascinating, and I would have happily read a full-length, non-fiction book on the subject, if it were as clear cut and understandable as Bender’s text; however, the story of the news crew and soldiers left me cold. At no point in the short work did I feel connected to any of the men or women (Yes, Convoy of Corpses includes female and non-white soldiers in the story!) traveling to Naw Abad. I got the impression that BBC reporter Geoff Summerside was meant to be the touchstone for readers since the vast majority have no personal knowledge of how to survive in Afghanistan. For me he felt flat, and the soldiers and rest of the BBC crew weren’t developed enough to allow me to empathize with their emotions; however, I think an expanded story that allows for more character development could be excellent. The subject matter is strong; I just didn’t resonate with the cast.

Choran’s artwork isn’t highly detailed or overly precise, but it does an excellent job of portraying the harsh, vast landscape of Afghanistan. I particularly appreciated the panoramic shots along the road that set the scene for the events in the story. What really makes the artwork for me, though, is Amitabha Naskar’s tan and brown palette that dominates the color scheme. I could almost feel the dust and heat of Afghanistan’s mountainous landscape, as well as the US soldiers’ tacit resignation at their potentially fatal task. Brightly colored items usually meant something wrong, such as the orange of the roadside car or the red of the young suicide bomber’s shirt.

Overall, Convoy of Corpses is an interesting primer into the background of Afghanistan’s “highway to hell,” but for me, it never truly became a compelling story; however, if you have any interest in the region or the experiences our soldiers face fighting the Taliban, it’s worth picking up to learn a little about the mysterious, mountainous land.


3.5 Bullet Proof Vests out of 5

Last modified on Saturday, 29 December 2018 02:33

Jodi Scaife, Fanbase Press Social Media Strategist

Mid-30s geek type with a houseful of pets, books, DVDs, CDs, and manga

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