Two Moons is a speculative fiction comic book about an indigenous soldier in one of the most uncomfortably fetishized wars in American history. It’s as if creators John Arcudi and Valerio Giangiordano were dared by some incredibly insidious party to create a hot-button book sure to be obsessed over by fans and naysayers alike. Armchair historians, nerd-forward indigenous rights activists, genre enthusiasts. It’s possible that no single panel of this series will be above scrutiny.
Luckily, the first issue of Two Moons kicks the book off with a bang. Strong hooks abound, both historic and fantastic, and the book has a gorgeous illustrative sheen. Giangiordano is expressive and gorgeous without dodging the gruesome and macabre.
Virgil Morris, a quote-unquote “assimilated” Pawnee man fighting on the Union side of the American Civil War, is a compelling figure. He is positioned in an unsteady place — as a private, he is not high enough on the military ladder to be fully in control of his own life. Raised by adoptive white parents, he stands uniquely poised to provide an illuminating POV character for readers to experience not only the horrifying supernatural premise of the series, but also the division of country and peoples in 1800s America.
The supernatural premise, while not immediately as compelling as its protagonist, simmers with its own sinister smokiness. Spectral grandfathers and full-on beast-men, toothy and seemingly impervious. An apparent doomsday prophecy looms over everything, promising a deeper dive into the darkness (if one a little well-worn). While the wheels of the mystery crank to life, the horror of the book is bolstered by the real-world terror of the war. Shrapnel wounds, distressingly rendered, and a chaotic meeting of the two armies in battle provide a tone for the series to come, one that flatly and unapologetically illustrates the banality of war.
Praise aside, the book is a loaded gun of research-heavy touchy subjects with little wiggle room for lazy narrative or horror clichés. We can excuse the dangerously obvious Spiritual Guide Grandfather and a slight sloppiness in sequencing this issue, if only for the absolute banger of a cliffhanger that closes the issue, but the book needs a truly unique angle to stand it more steadily on its feet.
An incredibly promising first issue, it leaves the reader desperate to see the book running on all cylinders.
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