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Longbox Junk The A Team: War Stories

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"I have a lot of issues. . ."

I write comic book reviews that NOBODY has ever asked for!

September 2019

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The A-Team was a force to be reckoned with back in the 80's.  Unfortunately, it seems that when an A-Team movie was finally made in 2010, the glory days were long past and the response seems to have been a fairly unanimous "Why?"

When I decided to review this 4 issue tie-in mini put out by IDW, I hadn't seen the movie.  So out of curiosity I decided to give it a go and found out that finding a copy was actually a harder task than I would have thought.  It's not on Netflix, it's not on any of the "on demand" channels I have, it's not at Wal-Mart, Target, or Best Buy.  I don't really buy things off the internet because I'm old and GET THE HELL OFF MY LAWN!  Long story short, I finally found a used copy in a Gamestop.

Yeah. . .you're going to get a movie review along with your comic review.  Roll with it.

I found the A-Team movie to be the sort of thing you forget about almost as soon as it's done with.  I watched it about 2 months ago, and as of this writing, I remember it had something to do with stolen money engraving plates, parachuting out of a crashing plane in a tank, crashing a truck through the wall of a mental hospital to break Murdock out,  and that the original narration and theme was at the end of it. It deserves every bit of the mediocre 47% Rotten Tomatoes score it has.

So that was the movie. . .utterly forgetable despite obviously having a huge budget and some big name actors attached.  It will NOT be the role Liam Neeson will be remembered for.  So how were the comics, you ask?  Let's find out!

THE A-TEAM: WAR STORIES (IDW)

HANNIBAL

In this prequel to the A-Team movie set during the 1991 Gulf War, Hannibal Smith flies undercover into Iraq to snatch a bioweapons scientist from Saddam Hussein. In short order, his cover is blown and he finds himself in a race for his life to escape the Republican Guard with both the scientist and a BBC reporter in tow.

I found this comic to be just about the same as the movie. . .fast-paced, full of action, and extremely forgettable. It's basically one long chase scene.

The art is pretty rough. You can tell the artist was working from photo reference because the vehicles are rendered in extreme detail, while everything else looks sketchy and almost unfinished.

Besides the somewhat poor art, the writer (s) seem to have mixed up the personality of Hannibal and Face (as I remember them), with Hannibal being an impulsive, scheming female magnet in this story instead of the level-headed leader with a plan for every situation.

Substandard art, a story that is basically an extended chase scene, and a main character out of character equal a comic that definitely belongs in the dollar bin where I found it.

B.A.

In this prequel to the A-Team movie set during the 1991 Gulf War, Corporal Bosco (B.A.) Baracus finds himself caught up in a scheme to sell U.S. weapons to Iraqi gangs. When he does the right thing and brings down the crooked officers behind the black market deal, B.A. pays the price with his military career.

On paper, the story description above seems pretty interesting. Unfortunately, the writers manage to take a decent idea and make it into a bit of a muddled mess.

Generally, "a bit of a muddled mess" is the perfect description for this entire comic. The art is heavy, dark, and overall pretty poor. The story is a decent outline poorly executed. The ending is confusing.

All in all, this comic just seems rushed and extremely average in every way. A damn shame, since B.A. was the big breakout hit character on the original A-Team. This story just makes him seem like a throwaway chump.

MURDOCK

In this prequel to the A-Team movie, "Howling Mad" Murdock relates the strange tale of his final mission for the U.S. military in Iraq during the Gulf War to his new psychiatrist. . .but did things really happen that way?

This issue of War Stories has a little different story setup than the others, being told in flashback style to a psychiatrist after the Gulf War. It's a fairly interesting idea, but unfortunately (like with the other issues in this series) the execution is not great. What should be a madcap adventure through Murdock's mind becomes an average rescue mission with some decent jokes cracked here and there.

The art on this series has been mediocre to put it kindly, but this issue is the worst of the bunch. There are a handful of obviously photo-referenced panels of vehicles and cityscapes that are okay, but the rest of it is pretty bad. On an early page where Murdock is caught while trying to escape the hospital he's in, the nurses chasing him have been drawn without faces! It's just sloppy.

Overall, this was a wasted opportunity to tell a different kind of story than what's in the other 3 issues of War Stories that fails in execution and is made worse by poor art.

No Bueno!

FACE

When one of master scrounger Templeton "Face" Peck's schemes lands him in hot water during the final days of the Gulf War, he takes on an impossible mission behind enemy lines for a crooked officer.

Except for the initial setup (which had some interesting moments spotlighting Face's scheming nature), this issue of War Stories is pretty much a chase scene that is actually pretty derivative of the story in the Hannibal issue. . .which is sort of odd, because in my review of THAT issue, I noted how odd it was that Hannibal seemed to have Face's personality. I'm not sure which issue was written first, but it's almost like the writers just gave up at some point.

The art in this one is better than in the other three issues, but that's not to say it's great. The other issues set the bar for "better" fairly low.

Overall, despite the strange feeling of having read half of this story already In War Stories: Hannibal, I'd say that this issue was probably the best of the four. . .and by saying that, I mean that it was pretty good, but not much better than that.

CONCLUSION

If there was a Rotten Tomatoes for comic books, I'd say this mini would be sitting squarely at the same 47% that the movie it's a prequel of is sitting at.  At the risk of offending Gulf War veterans. . .and I happen to be one.  I served with the Marine Corps during the Gulf War in 1991. . .but the Gulf War was just too short and too one-sided for many good stories to come out of it.  The original A-Team were Vietnam veterans, and although the T.V. show didn't explore much of that background, just knowing that gives the originals a much better backstory, and it really shows in these comics (and the movie). 

Weak setting aside, the stories told in this mini weren't BAD, they just weren't very GOOD.  They were right in the middle and all pretty forgetable in the end.  The art, on the other hand, was a real problem.  The painted covers were all good, but the interiors were all borderline crap.  Not a single artist on any of these issues was able to capture the likeness of the characters in a decent way, which is a pretty low bar to hurdle in a licensed property and probably about the LEAST I would expect.

Overall, I wouldn't suggest this mini to anybody but super fans of the rebooted A-Team (if any even exist).  The stories are weak and forgetable, the art is crap, and it's just sort of. . .wrong.   These comics belong right in the bargain bin where I found them for a buck apiece.

Up Next. . .

When naked pictures of women are in black and white, it's not porn, it's art. . .right? 

Does the same go for Batman?

DC's 1996 4 issue Batman: Black and White.  Be there or be square!

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