War stories are enjoying something of a renaissance in the world of comics at the moment, with World War II probably topping the chart as favourite real-world setting.
Chuck Dixon has the sort of name that makes you think he ought to be able to write a solid war story and he doesn’t disappoint. Team Zero is a hand-picked group of elite American commandos, chosen to parachute in to a Nazi research centre during the closing days of the Second World War. Their mission is to liberate any German scientists and secrets they can lay their hands on, and get them out before the Russians arrive and take their own share of the spoils. It’s a straight forward plan but it starts to go wrong from the moment the team jump out of the plane and into a blizzard, making it impossible for them to tell whether or not they are anywhere near their landing zone. After that the American soldiers are faced with a barrage of compromise decisions as things go from bad to worse.
Doug Mahnke’s art combines with Dixon’s script to create a tense and violent story. The jar-head characters are chosen for their special abilities so end up slipping into stereotypical roles, but when you’re defined by your skills and thrown into a situation where your team needs them to survive, it’s no surprise that the snipers are going to be cool and collected while the close-combat experts are prone to unpredictability to the point of psychosis.
Dixon’s story is in a different style to Garth Ennis’s War Stories, with less realism, less horror and a bit more gung-ho commando action. But its twists and turns add a greater level of sophistication than you might expect from the genre and it’s worth taking a look at, even if war stories don’t usually come top of your favourite genres.