SAN DIEGO — America’s newest comics publisher has a $200-billion-a-year budget, more than a million employees and just one title in its catalog. At Comic-Con International, the U.S. Army — yes, that U.S. Army — announced the release Friday of America’s Army No. 1, a partially animated digital comic for the iPad and Android tablets.
America’s Army is impressive from both visual and auditory perspectives and, as far as weapons and technology go, it’s highly realistic. What the comic does not provide is a compelling story, at least not in the preview of the first three issues that the Army provided to Wired. The ground combat branch is planning to release six issues of America’s Army digitally in coming months, followed by a print edition that will be available in comics shops and bookstores.
America’s Army is, frankly, boring. The government-funded comic doesn’t try very hard to create believable, sympathetic characters caught up in meaningful conflicts. Instead, America’s Army focuses on making the Army look good. As an advertisement, the digital comic only partially succeeds. As a work of art, it falls totally flat. That might come as a surprise to Mike Barnett, a civilian Army employee who co-created America’s Army with writer M. Zachary Sherman and got his start designing videogame-style training systems for soldiers.
“It’s about the people,” Barnett says of America’s Army.