Review by Richard Von Busack
It's 2011. In the White House is a doddering Republican, the aging and bewildered remains of John McCain. The Iraq war is at a temporary stalemate, with Baghdad in a well-catered fully capitalized green zone. Meanwhile, in Brooklyn, Jimmy Burns of the burnbabyburn blog is in the right place at the right time to record the Islamic terror bombing of a Starbucks. Kicked upstairs to cover the Mideast, the Murdochian Global News sends him to cover the Iraq situation. He arrives—with limited resources, untrustworthy security and an irresistible urge to continue his navel-gazing even on the corporate payroll. And that's when the Iraq version of the Tet Offensive breaks out. While critiquing the self-importance of the blogosphere, Anthony Lappe and Dan Goldman's graphic novel Shooting War perpetrates some of the sphere's worst customs: the self-importance, the self-pity, the lazy writing. Sample caption, under a group of dead civilians: "These are the faces of war." Worse, the characters persist in reducing themselves to cultural stereotypes. Another big annoyance is the seriously indifferent quality of the visuals. Artist Goldman combines digitally sampled photographic images with drawings—an unprecedented radical technique that Jim Steranko was doing 40 years ago, only with halftones instead of Photoshop. No one could argue with the research or the well-written mad-scientist speech by the anti-hero. And Shooting War does have a point: Despite the new tech, the actual business of reporting hasn't changed all that drastically. The two collaborators lionize a trustworthy geezer to prove it: Dan Rather. (By Anthony Lappe and Dan Goldman; Grand Central Publishing; 192 pages; $21.99 hard cover)
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