Brit Volume One:Old Soldier

by Robert Kirkman, Tony Moore, Cliff Rathburn and Val Staples

Published by Image Comics

Brit is the best kept secret in the world; he's a super soldier, a man who has seen it all, done it all and is very, very good at what he does. He's also a pensioner, but don't you dare let him hear you call him that. Robert Kirkman, for all his current success with horror and superheroes, got his start on comedy with the supremely blasphemous and extremely funny Battle PopeHe's got an ear for dialogue and a distinct affection for characters who are abnormal by being normal and that's really given room to shine here. Collecting the initial three specials, this volume gives the reader a perfect chance to not only see a master at work, but also see how the concept has developed over time.

The three stories on display here balance perfectly Kirkman's twin loves of good people in tough corners and utterly insane action.

From the opening sequence where Brit fights a monster made of posessed innocent bystanders (And deals with it in a surprisingly effective and remarkably brutal way) to the bruising fight with a Chinese superhuman, this is a book where the main character isn't smart, but is clever enough to know what he can do and do well. There's a brutal pragmatism to Brit, a sense that underneath the cheerful bluster there's someone who will do whatever it takes to get the job done, whatever that might be and Kirkman uses that pragmatism to tremendous effect. Brit is a man you take lightly, once, and if you're very lucky you'll be alive to realise your mistake.

However, what truly makes this shine, aside from the gloriously expressive artwork of Tony Moore and Cliff Rathburn, is the characters. Brit's a terrifying man but he's just a man, and the scenes with his stripper girlfriend (To say nothing of the world's most awkward 'meet the parents' moment) are sweet, unforced and very very funny. Kirkman, as fans of his other series will know, excels at writing about normal people in ridiculous situations and here, whether it's an alien invasion, the sudden revelation that your Dad can fly or an international incident settled by two guys beating the hell out of one another, the ridiculous is never far away.

Eccentric, brutal and gripping this is a fine entry in an overcrowded genre. Do yourself a favour, and introduce yourself to Brit. Just remember, be polite.