ARR6   (WildStorm, 2003-2004)

™ and © WildStorm, and imprint of DC Comics

There was a time when stories set in alternate realities were intriguing solely because they were just that: stories set in alternate realities. But the larger number of such titles in recent years, from Luftwaffe 1946 to Rex Mundi, have set a new standard that demands, not only the hook, but also a well-done story to back it up, just like any other comic book.

Busiek’s story doesn’t quite make it. Fletcher Arrowsmith is a teen-ager growing up in the States during World War I, and he longs to fight for justice on behalf of those suffering in Europe. But this is a reality in which the military, as well as the rest of the world, has found a way to tap into the realm of magic; it’s a world where demons and dragons fight alongside mortal men on the battlefield.

Take away this hook, though, and all that remains is an OK intro to a seemingly typical story about an average boy looking to make a difference in the world. Busiek makes a valiant attempt at the high jump but doesn’t clear the bar; the first chapter simply doesn’t hold any interest beyond the Elseworlds-type gimmick.

But Pacheco and Meriño beautifully capture the mix of magic with the mundane, and there is a nagging fascination with this reality that will draw readers back, despite the shallow storyline. It could be better, but, magically, it remains entertaining enough.

— Jim Johnson

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Book #1

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Book #1 (2nd printing)

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