Comic Review: The Harlem Hellfighters

I have to admit, I was not expecting Max Brooks’s follow up to World War Z to be a historical fiction graphic novel about World War I, but here we are.  Brooks teams with artist Caanan White to tell the story of the 369th Infantry Regiment, an African American unit that saw some really horrible stuff in a really horrible war.

Facing racism at home, these men still took up arms to fight for the nation that sadly didn’t fight for them.  While the main cast of characters are fictional, they do interact with historic figures and the things they go through are based on real challenges faced by the men of the 369th.  From training with broomsticks to facing home-mandated segregation even in war-torn Europe, they fought on all sides.

I’m not in love with Caanan White’s art style.  Sometimes it looks great while at others it seems too busy.  This is made a bit worse by the comic being in black & white.  If it had color or perhaps a more nuanced grayscale, I think it could have been greatly improved.  There were more than a few times where I had a hard time figuring out just what was happening as my eye couldn’t focus.

Overall, I’m very glad I read this.  It came about because Brooks (and others, apparently) couldn’t get the money to make a film version.  Here’s hoping that changes, as it’s a heck of a story and one that should be more well known.  The 369th deserve it.

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