Book Reviews

Book Review: Terminal Lance Ultimate Omnibus

The Terminal Lance Ultimate Omnibus is a heavy, generous compilation of all the strips from Maximilian Uriarte’s viral military comic, Terminal Lance. The book also includes Uriate’s blogs, unpublished strips and commentary, adding useful grounding in the acronyms, nicknames and constant chicken shit that Marine grunts experience firsthand.

Terminal Lance follows the adventures (nearly all of them rooted in monotony) of Abe and Garcia, the two main protagonists who are ‘terminal lances’, or lance corporals with little opportunity for promotion. The strips carefully mine the hazards, stupidities and inanities that enlisted men face daily outside the crazy highs and terrifying lows of the combat experience.

Uriate’s art is clear and clean, capable of invoking specific characters and complicated shenanigans. His dialogue is funny, pointed and stuffed with black humor. While each strip might hang on a pun or a funny resolution, the cumulative effect of the strips read together is a very real and insightful document of twenty-first century war.

The stereotypical marine fare is displayed here: the horrible quality of meals-ready-to-eat (MREs), being in love with women who are continents away, and the ineptness of officers. There is bleakness in certain angles, but also relentless humor, an esprit de corps that rooted in the grunts ability to endure any frustration, any senseless stupidity as long as they endure it alongside fellow marines.

This collection of comic strips captures these moments as well as any novel. While Uriate has been fairly compared to the World War II artist Bill Maudlin, he also follows in the tradition of Heller’s Catch 22, where the unfairness of the world itself is combatted with humor and inspired lunacy, and the careful observation of often ludicrous events is its own form of triumph.

Terminal Lance Ultimate Omnibus, Little, Brown and Company, $30.00 hardcover, http://a.co/brzrfbm

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