REVIEW: League of Volunteers #1

With the release of the second issue of League of Volunteers due soon, I present a review of the first issue I wrote this Spring for ComicRelated.
Cover Date: February 2011
Story by: Robert Curley
Art by: Barry Keegan
Letters by: Comicraft
Cover by: Barry Keegan
Publisher: Atomic Diner
Cover Price: 5.00 euros
Reviewed By: David O’ Leary
Book Summery: By 1940 the second world war had cast its shadow over the entire world. Men and women from all walks of life fought for what they thought to be right. America had yet to enter the battle field but when she did her might was a great relief to a broken continent.
Ireland had chosen to remain neutral from the start having only recently become a republic. This was a definite way of showing the world just how truly independent she now was. But there were many in the republic who felt this decision was wrong and like their ancestors before them fought for what they believed to be true and just. Among them an elite league of meta humans brought together by their belief in a better world and a better Ireland. A league of volunteers.
The newest book from Ireland’s premier comic publisher Atomic Diner may well be one of the very best Irish comics I have read. That is no exaggeration. From the mind of Rob Curley, who brought us Freakshow, the long running Irish supernatural detective comic, comes a new title that may have blown all other Irish books out of the water with its debut issue.
Rob Curley has grand plans to build a universe of Irish heroes and perhaps it may the right time to do so. If you think about the time in US history during their Great Depression, which was the time that the age of the hero really took off. Over here, we aren’t quite that bad off as the 1930’s US population despite our Governments best efforts to ensure we are but I dearly wish that this book grabs an audience because it is on a par if not above any US big house book.
The story starts in County Wexford in the first century AD with a young future seer who has a vision of Ireland in the 1940’s. He fears that there is an evil about to come to that time and that he should be there to help vanquish it. With the blessing of his teacher he sets off to the 20th Century. The next scene has us in the South West in 1941 where a massive German WW2 German Me-323 transport aircraft is in the process of being guided down to the ground by subversive Nazi’s who have no business in Ireland because of its neutrality. They remove a large box of cargo from the plane and move it into a clearing where they use it to set up a large device. They are being watched all the while by one of Ireland’s original heroes, The Glimmer Man, who can watch no longer and he flies into to break up what he considers a threat to Ireland. Unfortunately for him he is too late as the Bocanach (a male goblin) is being summoned by the Nazi’s. While this struggle is going on it is watched by a black bird who is the incarnation in this time of the young seer from the start of the story. Our hero is joined in his fight by The Archer an Irish bow and arrow expert who fought in the Spanish Civil War in the 1930’s. The Bocanach defeats them and takes off leaving the Nazi’s scattered and disorganized. The fleeing Nazi leader is confronted by the Bocanach and confronts the German to find out why he was brought here. Using a mind reading technique he gets the rise of Hitler and Nazism from the Nazis thoughts. While attempting to bargain with the Bocanach he is beheaded. The Bocanach then opens a slit in space and disappears all the while watched by the black bird.
This was a great issue with a lot of Irish historical influence obviously. As the first step in the master plan, it is a strong step.
Barry Keegan is a new artist and this guy has talent oozing out of him. His work has a lot of character with influences ranging from Mike Mignola to Darwyn Cooke from just looking at it. There was obviously a fair bit of research gone into what had to be drawn, the aforementioned German plane for example was depicted brilliantly. The grey wash look to the book suits it just great conveying the setting of the story in the 40’s. Keegan, though new, has a lot of raw potential and the more he draws the more refined the look of the book will get but in saying that the framework for a great looking book is there already.
I hope we can see more of this book soon, as the long running downside of any indy book is the schedule and trying to keep it on track. Curley has a great reputation with the artists he gets and those he has worked with have gone on to work with Marvel, IDW, BOOM! and Dark Horse, so he has something of a keen eye for talent. With the likes of Stephen Coffey’s Celtic Knights getting re-launched this year and Curley’s grand ideas for Irish comics the future looks bright.