The Losers – always a big budget Hollywood feature, even before the film.
With The Losers movie opening very soon Vertigo have re-released the first two volumes of Andy Diggle and Jock’s series in one volume, collecting the first 12 issues and proving, once more that The Losers was a Hollywood blockbuster even before the movie was made.
The Losers were an elite black ops special forces team working their way around the world, doing all the dirty little black ops jobs that their C.I.A. handler deemed necessary. But they ended up seeing a little too much; damaging, dangerous stuff that convinced them that the orders they were getting just didn’t make any sense and they decided to quit the game. Of course, that never goes down that well and the Agency removed them from the game, their chopper going down in flames and The Losers are written off as just another bunch of expendable assets.
But The Losers don’t die that well and, having made it out of the crash, they went to ground and starting planning on ways to get their lives back, way that involve taking the fight right back to the Agency that burned them, taking down dirty C.I.A. ops and all the time trying to get a fix on “Max”, their shadowy controller, the one who they assume ordered their deaths.
That’s pretty much the entire plot of The Losers, it’s one big, bold revenge thriller of a book. But it’s a big, bold revenge thriller executed with style and panache by the writer/artist team of Andy Diggle and Jock. The Losers is a really accomplished book, with an enormous amount of bang to your buck.
(Lt. Col. Franklin Cray; the leader of The Losers and a man determined to smoke out “Max”. But that may not be quite as easy as he’s hoping. From The Losers by Diggle and Jock. DC Vertigo)
It’s is everything it’s meant to be and no more; thrilling, action packed, spectacular and explosive. Not one to dive into if you’re expecting something more thoughtful and cerebral, but that was never it’s intent. It’s an unashamedly out and out thriller, with Diggle packing his pages with every possible action/spy cliché he can think of; corrupt, shadowy C.I.A. handlers, manic car chases, a speedboat chase with a spectacular ramp jump, computer hackery, an assault on a locked down building, impossibly cool marksmen taking out the targets every time, double crosses, lots of gunplay and lots and lots of explosions.
You name it and The Losers probably has it. But a cliché’s not necessarily a bad thing, especially not when delivered with the style and energy that Diggle and Jock manage in these pages. And not when Diggle’s cast of characters, stereotypes though they might be, are obviously just as much fun for him to write as they are for us to read.
(Never assume anything. Cougar has a unique way to requisition/steal valuable US military helicopters. From The Losers by Diggle and Jock. DC Vertigo)
And Jock’s art is just fantastic for it’s subject matter; dynamic, action packed, atmospheric and packing some fantastic page layouts, with gorgeous tonal colours from Lee Loughridge.
Shawn Martinbrough deputises for Jock on two issues in the second volume and, as good as they are, they can’t be anything but a bit of a letdown – this was and is Jock’s book to draw. They’re his characters, his style, anything else is second best I’m afraid.
The Losers; full of everything you really want in an out and out action spy thriller. It may not be the smartest thing you’ll ever read, but it’s certainly a great, thrill a page read, the pages turn fast and the action never lets up.
Will the film be any good? Maybe, maybe not. But one thing’s for certain, there’s no way the film will be as good as the source, because the graphic novels are about as filmic as you’re going to get, just with perfect characterisation, great sets and an effects budget that’s as good as Diggle and Jock’s imagination.
(There’s a free pdf download of issue 1 at the DC Vertigo site here)