written by Joshua Winchester
PopCultHQ received an advance review copy of THE LONELY WAR OF CAPT. WILLY SCHULTZ HC from Dark Horse Comics. Available now, the creative team for this hardcover features writing from Will Franz and illustrations from Sam Glanzman, with additional illustrations from Wayne Vansant.
Here’s PopCultHQ’s spoiler-free review of…
THE LONELY WAR OF CAPT. WILLY SCHULTZ HC
Additional illustrations from Wayne Vansant
In Shops: January 11th, 2023
Finally collected by ITS ALIVE! and co-published with Dark Horse, The Lonely War of Capt. Willy Schultz was originally serialized in the comic book Fightin’ Army in the 1960s. This series was written by a sixteen-year-old Will Franz and illustrated by the already-seasoned comic book creator and WWII veteran Sam Glanzman. The entire story arc, collected here and finally finished, is one of the most dramatic, moving, and controversial comic book stories ever told! Also includes a new final chapter drawn by Wayne Vansant and a new historical essay by Stephen R. Bissette about the series.
PopCultHQ’s Comic Book Review:
THE LONELY WAR OF CAPT. WILLY SCHULTZ HC
This HC is unlike anything this reviewer has encountered before. As a life-long fan of comics, and also comic book history, it was fascinating to take a deep dive into a series that, upon further research, has a long-standing place of importance in the annals of war comics history. A particular thing that stood out over the course of reading this volume was the deep character development that unfolded, making the characters both primary and secondary feel more human and real.
Writing: Will Franz’s writing is brilliant here. It is amazing to think about the fact when he was only 16 years old, he chose to write an epic tale set in a war that was already being eclipsed by the ongoing conflict in Vietnam. Will writes with a stark realism that is on par with other war comics of the period. However, his decision to keep the story centered on very real topics that are still as relevant in 2023 as they were in the late 1960s, or the 1940s, is what kept the pages turning.
Art: Sam Glanzman’s art style really meshes well with Will’s scripts. Combined they give readers a focused look at the ongoing struggles of being a soldier in WWII, enduring all manner of travails, from the scorching heat of the North Africa deserts, to the intensity of seeing fellow soldier, and even friends on both sides of the conflict being forced to act in ways they normally would not have. The contrast with switching artists to Wayne Vansant at the end of Willy’s story was very jarring…and to be honest, after reading the majority of the book and getting into the trove of Will and Sam’s work, it left a very sad feeling in the heart of this reader. Both Sam and Wayne’s art are fine, but the decision to switch artists right as Willy’s story reaches its conclusion was a poor decision.
Colors: The color choices for the whole of Willy Schultz’s story of survival play perfectly with both art styles. While the colorist(s) are not named for the original run of the series, the restorations by Ron Every are terrific. Fans of the comics both past and present will see that it not only assists in breathing new life into the artwork, but gives it that oh-so-subtle touch. From the dirt and grease on a tank brigade’s faces, to the beads of sweat, or the varying shades of flesh tone, all of these stand out and stand up because of Ron.
Letters: As with the color restoration, Ron also had his hand in the text corrections as well. While I have not yet read the original comics as they were printed in the 60’s and early 70’s, this reviewer can only imagine that at the time (and any previous grammatical errors that might have been present when Will Franz first wrote the scripts), were hopefully few and far between to deal with. Ron worked his magic again and hit a home run playing double duty on both colors and letters.
Overall, The Lonely War of Capt. Willy Schultz is a fine publication. Charlton Comics fans and historians alike will rejoice to add this HC to their collections, while dedicated war comics buffs will find joy in it as well. If anything can be said to diminish the overall quality of the story, it is as previously stated, the decision to change artists in The Final Chapter. For this reason and this reason alone, I urge everyone to be cautious and not be so jarred as to put this book down and stop reading. Willy’s story is one worth seeing to the end, even if it means that last chapter is penciled by another person.
Dark Horse Comics:
Founded in 1986 by Mike Richardson, Dark Horse Comics is an excellent example of how integrity and innovation can help broaden a unique storytelling medium and transform a company with humble beginnings into an industry giant. Over the years, Dark Horse has published the work of creative legends such as Yoshitaka Amano, Margaret Atwood, Paul Chadwick, Geof Darrow, Will Eisner, Neil Gaiman, Dave Gibbons, Faith Erin Hicks, Kazuo Koike, Matt Kindt, Jeff Lemire, Mike Mignola, Frank Miller, Kentaro Miura, Moebius, Chuck Palahniuk, Wendy Pini, Richard Pini, and Gerard Way. In addition, Dark Horse has a long tradition of establishing exciting new creative talent throughout all of its divisions. The company has also set the industry standard for quality licensed comics, graphic novels, collectibles, and art books, including Stranger Things, Avatar: The Last Airbender, The Legend of Korra, Minecraft, The Legend of Zelda, Super Mario, Dragon Age, James Cameron’s Avatar, Game of Thrones, Mass Effect, StarCraft, The Witcher, and Halo. Today, Dark Horse Comics is one of the world’s leading entertainment publishers.