Dreaming Eagles #1 (of 6)
Creator & Writer – Garth Ennis
Artist – Simon Coleby
Colorist – John Kalisz
Letterer – Rob Steen
Review by Joey Braccino
Full disclosure: I’m a sucker for Tuskegee Airmen stories. The very real themes of overcoming racism and prejudice, the Romanticism of World War II, the vigor and violence of aerial warfare—the story of the Tuskegee Airmen and their triumphs both in the air and for our society is at once a vital part of our history as well as a frequently underrepresented one. The story of these dynamic, ground-breaking pilots and crewmen—the division of African-American pilots out of Tuskegee air field in Alabama—ran hundreds of successful bombardment and escort missions over Europe throughout the war. If you don’t know about the Red Tails, seriously, look ‘em up; the story is remarkable.
Concluding a super successful month of publishing, Aftershock Comics closes out the year strong with Garth Ennis and Simon Coleby’s take on the Tuskegee Airmen story in Dreaming Eagles #1. Aftershock has so far established itself on both its diversity of line (and the Aftershock line is shockingly diverse—Superzero, InSEXt, and Replica) as well as caliber of creator. Ennis is renowned for his work redefining The Punisher at Marvel and his independent work on series like Preacher and Crossed. With all of those series in mind, I was surprised to see a writer often associated with violent, often gratuitous brutal brand of storytelling listed as the creator of what is otherwise a historical comic like Dreaming Eagles. But alas, here we are, and I can safely say that Garth Ennis has a very interesting story to tell with this mini-series.
Dreaming Eagles #1 is a very deliberate introduction to our characters and our world. We open in 1966 with Reggie Atkinson finding his son battered and bruised after a Civil Rights protest gone awry. Ennis frames the first issue around Reggie’s conflict with his son—a young Black man angry with the inequality and obvious racism that persist in America. His son can’t seem to understand why his father can’t seem to understand the value of the protests and the movement that people like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., are trying to accomplish. Reggie, a veteran of the Tuskegee Airmen, put his life on the line proving the worth and value of his community during WWII, but that was over two decades prior. It is only by issue’s end that Reggie opens up to his son about his service as a pilot, and Ennis just teases us with both a flashback to the war itself as well as the beginnings of a reconciliation between father and son.
A deeply character-driven piece, Dreaming Eagles #1 is compelling when Ennis focuses in on Reggie. The most intriguing and effective moment in the debut issue is a PTSD-esque nightmare that flashes Reggie back into the cockpit and into a firefight high over Germany. Simon Coleby’s otherwise highly realistic, subtle aesthetic suddenly becomes dynamic and violent in this sequence, and the comic really reaches its potential.
Worth a look. Potential is the keyword here for Dreaming Eagles. The first of a six issue mini-series, Dreaming Eagles #1 is a very deliberate, relatively non-eventful debut that focuses more on set-up than forward progression. Given that the book is a mini-series and given the caliber of the creators and the source material, I fully expect Dreaming Eagles to be a compelling and engaging war comic.