Tet #1 (of 4)
Written & Lettered by Paul Allor (@PaulAllor)
Artwork by Paul Tucker (@paul_tucker)
Review by Joey Braccino
“I’ve never liked telling war stories.”
Vietnam is a spectre that haunts our collective history because it’s more than a war, and it always will be. It’s the convoluted, complex, diverse personal stories of men and women that have grown and warped and followed for over 50 years.
And I think that’s at the heart of Paul Allor and Paul Tucker’s latest comic, Tet, a mini-series set on the eve of the titular Tet Offensive in 1968. The story follows Lieutenant Eugene Smith, a translator stationed in Hue City, as he balances his blossoming relationship with a local girl named Quang Ha with the sudden murder of one of his fellow soldiers. Eugene is placed on the investigation with a local detective named Bao, and, amidst the trauma and tedium of Vietnam, Eugene sees solving the case as a sort of “final mission” that might lift him out and into a new life with Ha.
Allor mixes conspiracy thriller and war romance perfectly, using the War as an excellent, ominous backdrop to a much more human story. Nevertheless, a brief interlude to “the present” suggests that Allor is well aware of the lasting significance and consequences of Vietnam, and he is more than happy to explore that as well.
Tucker’s artwork is astounding. Reminiscent of Marvel’s groundbreaking ‘Nam series, Tucker’s vintage aesthetic hearkens back to the comic book imagery of the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, when naturalism and pulp collided in grit and four-colors. Vietnam is such an evocative topic, and Tucker is more than ready to use suggestive staging and shifts in perspective to play on that emotional resonance. The influences of Apocalypse Now, Platoon, and the aforementioned ‘Nam is readily apparent.
Unlike other prominent Vietnam books in circulation now (’68 Scars from Image comes to mind), Tet #1 relies less on gimmicks and sci-fi or horror and instead focuses on the reality of its historical source. While fictional in nature, Tet #1 feels very, very true. And that’s how war stories go.
Buy. Tet #1 is a powerful, promising first issue from Paul Allor and Paul Tucker. The blend of hard-boiled crime and war story is pitch perfect, and the artwork is simply stunning. Check it.