Best Foot Forward features outstanding comics that create an amazing, memorable, and impactful first issue.
Written By: Garth Ennis
Art By: Simon Coleby
Cover Art By: Francesco Francavilla
Published: December 30, 2015 by Aftershock Comics
There’s a lot to be said about a first issue, as it can make, or break, a book’s success before the next issue even sees print. A first issue is like a line cast into the ocean, able to retrieve huge numbers for the next book. Unfortunately, that same line can also yield little to no success, leading to the disappearance of the book into comic history. That’s my fascination with first issues. The pressure to produce something great, right from the start. Giveaway too much, the reader has nothing to anticipate, give too little, and your audience becomes disinterested. Dreaming Eagles #1 finds this perfect balance. By the end of the issue, I felt satisfied while simultaneously knowing, I want more.
Dreaming Eagles is inspired by the first African-American fighter pilots during WWII. History remembers these fellows as the “Tuskegee Airmen,” the 332nd Fighter Group and the 477th Bombardment Group of the United States Army Air Forces.
What makes this more than a retelling of an important story, and iconic men, is how it’s presented. The time period of the book is set in the mid 60’s. A period in our nation’s history when racial tensions were being stretched to capacity. Yet, the Tuskegee Airmen were only active from 1940-1952 and fought in WWII. This split-in-time is creatively presented through the stories of a father, one of the Airmen, given to his son, a young man swayed by the powerful and truth filled message of Martin Luther King.
The son desires to fight for equal rights, and against racial oppression. A war where African American men and women wanted to be recognized, heard, and treated as fellow humans. The father has seen his fair share of war. He knows that no war, in any capacity, is won without taking its share of the lives who fought it. Thus, we are left with the tension his father faces, a desire to protect his son, and an understanding that the fight his son wishes to wage will have its costs, but is worth fighting.
In my opinion, I wish there were more comics attempting to do what Dreaming Eagles appears to be doing. Through the use of powerful storytelling, and compelling visuals, comics are able to reach readers in a way that not many other art forms can. It’s a direct engagement of the mind through written word, accompanied by the power of the visual medium in its artwork. I cannot think of a better use of the comic art form than to retell important moments of history. Moments that often get swept aside, or even away, while others are relegated to a single month of the year. The use of comics, in this form, stand to be extremely powerful, entertaining, and educational.
I was enthralled with every page of this book. This story sets out to tell a story about equality. About the men and women who gave everything to make tomorrow a better place. Men and women who set aside their own well being for the sake of future generations. It does this, but through the eyes of a dad and his child, in a moment when father and son sit down and have a talk, man to man.
Verdict: Based on this single issue, I have no doubt that I will be reading every issue Ennis and Coleby create. It is my hope that through this book, others are inspired to take the art of comics and use them to tell a new generation of the greatness that came before them.
Dreaming Eagles #2 available now, and issue #3 is released Feb 24, 2016.