by Brahm Revel
Guerillas started life, at Image, as a semi-regular comic, before it shifted to a graphic novel format at Oni. The delays between volumes are long, and this Volume three, which came out last May, is the first to contain all-new material. It took me a while to get around to reading it, but now I remember why I was so enamoured with this project in the first place.
Guerillas is a story set during the Vietnam War, and concerns itself with a platoon of chimpanzees trained to be soldiers in the United States Army. They've gone rogue, and are continuing the fight on their own, without direction. Back in the first volume, they rescued a hapless private, Clayton, and taken him under their wing (mostly because he can light their cigarettes). At the same time, a group of human soldiers, along with the German scientist that trained the chimps, and his trained baboon Adolf, are out in the jungle looking for them.
Where this kind of set-up could easily lead towards a solid comedic series, or feature just a ton of extreme style violence, Revel is approaching the concept directly, and with seriousness. The chimpanzees, especially the leader, Goliath, have very distinct personalities that come across strongly in Revel's storytelling and drawing. Revel digs into Goliath's past, and that of another of the squad. Clayton is also a more multi-faceted character with this volume, as he reflects on his childhood and relationship with his grandfather (who died when he was quite young). We also get a better look at Dr. Heisler, who started this program with his twin brother.
There is a very Apocalypse Now scene in an old temple to Shiva that really helped demonstrate some of the themes of this series. I feel that, as Revel works so slowly on this book (mostly, I believe because he has other projects and film work), he really spends a lot of time making it more rich and complex, to the readers' benefit.
I don't know when Revel is going to complete this series, but I do know that it's a title that deserves a lot more recognition.