Review: Last Day In Vietnam By Will Eisner

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Last Day in Vietnam recounts Will Eisner’s own experiences with soldiers engaged not only in the daily hostilities of war but also in larger, more personal combat. Some of the stories in this novel are comical, some heartrending, some frightening, yet all display the incredible insight into humanity characteristic of Eisner’s entire oeuvre.

Will Eisner’s Last Day in Vietnam is being reprinted in a hardcover edition to coincide with Will Eisner week. The new addition features a foreward by Matt Fraction as well as the introduction to the first edition. There are several publishers and hands on the editorial part of the book, but the words and pictures are from the legendary writer and artist.

vietnam coverThis is a graphic novella that takes Eisner’s experiences over the years he was involved with the military. There are stories from both the Korean and the Vietnam War. The book collects six little vignettes that look at characters and experiences during the war. You have stories that focus on a desk jockeys last day in Vietnam where he is finally throw into the thick of things, to stories that show no matter how ruthless and vicious you are during war doesn’t mean you can’t be nice and gentle. I don’t want to give a blow-by-blow account of the book, but each and every story looks at real experiences soldiers had during the war and shows how Eisner interpreted them. A few even have a first person perspective that leaves the reader to see the story through the eyes of the character, or rather Eisner himself.

Eisner’s stories are personal and touching. The man was a true master at the comic form, and he shows it here. The only complaint that can be leveled at the book is its brevity. Eisner is a story craftsman, but the stories are really short and could have been explored more at length. The art is Eisner’s usual style. The almost cartoon looking characters help show the contrast between regular people and the hellish war they are fighting. If you’re a history buff or an Eisner fan it is well worth the read 4/5

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