Heavy WeaponWhile I vividly remember the classic 80s action movies that I grew up with, I have managed to completely avoid any sense of nostalgia for them. Besides a few gems such as Die Hard (also my favorite Christmas movie), I am of the opinion that most of the cinematic shoot-em’-ups released during the 80s were formulaic, jingoistic, misogynist, borderline racist, and did I mention formulaic? Unfortunately, this is the lens through which I evaluate Heavy Weapon, the “ultimate homage to 80s action movies…in a graphic novel!”

As an homage, this work of graphic fiction by David Desjardin succeeds flawlessly. Every thematic element of an archetypical B-rated 80s action flick cast with A-list stars is explored, exploded, and drawn out with a montage. Complete with faux 80s style video-game advertisements in the back of the book and a cover/spine/back-cover production that evokes a VHS tape, this work of art slogs those extra kilometers though Commie-infested jungle to bring you, the reader, everything you could possibly want from an action extravaganza riddled with big sweaty men, big sweaty guns, and big sweaty one-liners. The interior art is clean and satisfying, with smooth pencils and big, sweaty, expressive faces.

All of that is well and good for fans of 80s action movies. If you are indifferent to or uninterested in 80s action movies, well, there’s no reason for you to read this book. Starring John Magnum, your typical 80s action hero, the plot follows standard operating procedure. Magnum is a retired Army vet, the last man alive of his elite squad, and he’s called back to duty to conduct a one-man operation involving the rescue of several POWs from the hands of a drug cartel in Central America. If I reported that John Magnum is captured along the way, that he escapes in a big action set-piece, and that he returns to extract his vengeance in another blaze of glory, I would not be spoiling this book in the slightest because you already know that’s the only way that this story can shake itself out.

This dichotomy is very frustrating for me; the effortlessly executed style combined with the absolutely clichéd source material. I could accept this work as a pristine example of fan tribute to a beloved genre, but the genre itself is so boring, ham-handed, and offensive that I just don’t see the point of it.

If you are a fan of the 80s action movie, then this could be the next best thing you’ll get short of heading to the theaters for The Expendables 3. If you aren’t, then there’s literally nothing to see here.

Heavy Weapon
by David Desjardin
illustrated by Michela Da Sacco
ISBN: 9780989344203
Strike Comics, 2013

  • Garrett Gottschalk

    Past Reviewer

    This reviewer is not longer actively working on our site, but we would not be here if not for our many dedicated contributors over the years. We thank all of them for their reviews, features, and support! Garrett Gottschalk is an adult reference librarian at the Elmwood Park Public Library, Chicagoland, Illinois. He grew up on the great plains of Kansas, where he enjoyed subscriptions to Captain America, Thor, and Mad Magazine. After a fantasy detour during high school, he re-discovered comics of all flavors in college, and he currently spends his workdays ordering and promoting graphic novels (and music, video games, assorted non-fiction, etc) for the library, among other programming, outreach, and educational activities. Besides reading comics, Garrett enjoys spending time with his amazing wife, brewing and drinking beer, getting out of the country once in a while, gaming, rock shows, and organizing tabletop RPGing in Chicago as a volunteer community representative for Paizo Publishing. His mustache is a labor of love, and has been with him in spirit his entire life.

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