The Losers vol.1: Ante Up

The Losers vol. 1: Ante Up TPB Review

2004, Dc/Vertigo
Writer:
Andy Diggle
Art: Jock
Colours: Lee Loughridge

Were you to whistle the theme tune to The A-Team while reading Ante Up, I doubt Andy Diggle would be in the least offended. An update of DC’s long forgotten Special Forces group, Diggle’s Losers are an A-Team for the 21st century, a team of America’s finest who were double-crossed by their government – in this case, clandestine organisation “the Company” – and are out to bring the system to its knees.

The Losers vol.1: Ante Up

The Losers vol.1: Ante Up

What separates Clay and his team from Hannibal & co is the foul-mouthed dialogue and graphic violence ubiquitous to all recent Vertigo titles but Fables. Diggle grounds his team firmly in reality – comic book reality at least, if such a thing exists – only to throw it aside when the opportunity for ball tot the walls violence presents itself.

With the exception of motor-mouthed hacker Jensen (tech savvy but not unopposed to the odd fire fight) the team lack the individual personalities that such a title deserves. Middle Eastern sociopath Aisha is where Diggle’s subversive principle’s falter. Aisha compensates for a harsh upbringing in Afghanistan by killing as many Americans – but no, wait, bad Americans – as possible. Thought the team initially use non-lethal tactics, when backed into a corner they are more than happy to kill scores of lackeys.

Still, it’s riveting, ballistic stuff. Diggle’s potboiler pacing is super-slick, with Ante Up’s incendiary finale featuring destruction on a scale large enough to give Jerry Bruckheimer a hard-on. There’s a dark humour to Mark Simpson/Jock’s effervescent art, with bullets giving their recipients a Swiss cheese makeover, but his characters suffer from indefinable designs; it’s often difficult to tell who is who.

Despite its intelligent scripting, Ante Up fails to garner any affection for its spurned black op mavericks; a shame, as otherwise Losers is a package of the highest calibre.

6/10

Carl Doherty has written about movies, video games, comic books and literature for almost a decade, forging ill-informed critiques for numerous websites, blogs and publications that no one has ever heard of. His debut novel, the epic fantasy comedy Welcome to The Fold, is available now on Kindle here (UK) and here (US).

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