Monday, January 9, 2012

Any Empire by Nate Powell

Once again, Nate Powell (Swallow Me Whole) explores the American psyche in his latest graphic novel, Any Empire. This time he looks at the effects of war and violence on young people growing up in a small town. Powell's artwork is often wordless except for sound effects: the huff of exertion; a cry of pain; distant voices indicated in word balloons with text to small to read; ... and the wup, wup, wup of unseen helicopters and boom of unseen bombs.

Lee and Purdy hang out together as kids, even though their only shared interest is playing imaginative war games. Both have fathers who were in the U.S. military. Purdy is the leader of a small group of boys, but Lee doesn't participate in their mysterious activities. Meanwhile, a girl named Sarah suspects the boys of killing turtles.

Fast forward to Lee and Sarah, meeting again after they are out of high school, living once again in the same town. Purdy has been injured in army duty overseas and he is back too. Expect some weirdness - this is Nate Powell - and be ready for a powerful tale. The ending is pure genius.

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