Veteran’s Day is coming fast, and today I’m looking at The White Donkey, by Terminal Lance creator Maximilian Uriarte. As a warning upfront, this book is not for children by any stretch of the imagination. It is a sober look at a young Marine’s journey to Iraq, what happened there, and the consequences when he came home. If you’re looking for a book that will put you in the boots of someone who served in one of our current conflicts, this book pulls no punches. If you are not familiar with military jargon, this book drops you in the deep end. Google will probably be your friend here.
It’s 2007, and Abe is a young man who is desperately searching for something meaningful. Dissatisfied with his home life, he leaves everything he has ever known to join the Marines specifically to go to war to “see something real”. Full of bravado and fresh out of boot camp, Abe has some romantic illusions about war. During pre-deployment training, we see Abe interact with other members of his unit. The training scenes and briefings are some of the most accurate things I’ve seen in a comic. Anyone who has served in the last decade will instantly connect to what’s happening.
Soon enough we follow Abe to Iraq, where his expectations are put to the test. The constant vigilance and pressure are tempered with paranoid monotony, broken occasionally by moments of swift and terrible action. Abe is forced into accepting that this business of war is not at all like what Hollywood has shown us. Reality is rarely as neat as a story, and resolutions come sparingly.
The colors in the book are mostly shades of the various uniform colors of the Navy and Marine Corps. Where color intrudes into this world, it is vibrant and shocking. This story does a very good job of addressing the personal consequences of living through war. The story itself is fictional, but the author deployed to Iraq twice and served in the unit he uses for the story. I have no doubt that much of this is pulled from real events.
As a veteran myself, I highly recommend giving this book a read. It’s a hard story, and you’ll come out the other side a little different. Have a safe and happy Veteran’s Day!
Written by Rob