November 2003
2003 Ernest Lilley / SFRevu
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The Life Eaters by David Brin and Scott Hampton HCVR/Graphic Novel: ISBN 1401200982 PubDate: 10/01/03
Review by Daniel P Dern
144 pgs. List price $ 29.95
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You may vaguely (or clearly) remember David Brin's 1986 novella, "Thor Meets Captain America" (I do), not actually featuring Marvel Comics' Captain America, nor, as one might have expected from the title, Marvel's version of Norse thundergod Thor (and his mighty better-return-to-sender-in-sixty-seconds hammer, Mjolnir) (at least in Marvel's original Thor, who would otherwise revert to human Dr. Don Blake... although, I gather, this isn't currently the case).

Here's the comic book, sorry, graphic novel based on Brin's novella, expanded plotwise, with strong, good art by Ascott Hampton.

Think Phil K. Dick's The Man In The High Castle  meets Jim Krueger's Earth X/Universe X/Paradise X just-wrapped-up comic book mini-series, sort of.  (Assuming you followed them, and read Dick's book.)

Anyway: It's World War II, still... and, thanks to the unexpected intervention of what appears to be a gaggle of Aesir -- Norse Gods -- (Odin, Thor, etc.) and others, the Allies ain't doing so well.  In fact, they're running out of time, resources, hope, and pretty much everything else.

For no known reason, Loki, god of big mischief, is with, although not helping, the Allies.  He's with the crew of a secret submarine mission.

Things look grim.  Bloody apocalyptic grim.

And are the Aesir simply helping out those Germans -- or do they have some deeper game in mind?  For that matter, where did all them gods come from?  (That's the Earth/Universe/Paradise X aspect, semi-plot-spoiler-wise.)

If you want more plot spoilage, go find another review; I'm not going to spoil the surprises and plot twists.

This is not a cheerful book.  The art is good, and appropriate to the topic -- realistic.  I'm not sure how "good" it as as a comic book/graphic novel; it's not bad, but feels like it was done with someone who, well, doesn't have the mastery of the form that we've gotten spoiled from thanks to Neil Gaiman, Grant Morrison, Alan Moore, Jeph Loeb, not to mention Will Eisner, Jack Kirby, Stan Lee, Carlos Pacheco... or it may be that the style and pacing are a reasonable realization of the plot, content, mood, and whatnot.

Life Eaters is worth reading, but unless you're a complete collector, probably not something you need to own and will want to re-re-read. So borrow a copy, buy and resell, or see if your library will get it.  Like I said, recommended though.

Related note: If DC Comics has any information whatsoever about this book on their site, you may or may not be able to find it. 
One of the several times I went to  there was a main-page promo at one point, but not the other times (things are in rotation, I guess).  I don't see any info on the site under DC Comics, Wildstorm, Graphic Novels, etc., and DC continues to not have a search engine. Grumble.

2003 Ernest Lilley / SFRevu
columns - events - features - booksmedia                    home  /  subscribe