Turn Back the Clock


The Call of Duty

Writers: Brotherhood: Chuck Austin and David Finch

The Precinct: Bruce Jones and Tom Mandrake

The Wagon: Chuck Austin and Danijel Zelzej

The Call: Chuck Austin

Distributed By: Marvel Comics

Reviewed by Melissa Minners

            In the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks in New York City, Marvel Comics took advantage of local sentiment regarding the fallen heroes of the Trade Center attacks – the Fire Department, Police Department, and Paramedics – and created a comic book centered around these heroes.  The comic book series, The Call of Duty, was actually three-pronged.  It consisted of The Brotherhood (NYFD), The Precinct (NYPD), and The Wagon (NYFD EMT).  Each series ran separately, but in conjunction with one another, tying together to complete one story.

            Firefighter James MacDonald thought it was just another crack house on fire until he attempted to save the life of a little girl.  The girl warned him of impending disaster just prior to his crashing through the floor of the building.  MacDonald was rescued, but there was no sign of the little girl.  EMT Jennifer Montez is called upon to bring James MacDonald to the hospital.  On the way, Montez and her partner come across a horrific car accident.  Seated in the back seat of a mangled car is a completely unharmed little girl.  She warns Montez that a war is coming and then disappears.  Sergeant Frank Gunzer knows of the little girl they’ve seen.  He’s seen her, too.  She, too, has warned him of impending doom just prior to disappearing.  What does it all mean?

            As the three heroes struggle to understand what they’ve seen and yet still maintain a hold on sanity, a war is indeed brewing.  A demented drug overlord has plans to destroy the city of New York.  On the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, he plans to cause the destruction of the entire city using a new highly volatile drug and some very highly contagious toxins.  It’s up to our heroes to stop the madness with the help of the little blonde girl who continues to visit them with precious bits of information along the way.

            The appearance of The Call of Duty couldn’t have happened at a better time.  Sentiment was high for the heroes of 9/11 and New York City was receptive to the idea of a comic book dedicated to the heroes of the city.  It had been some time since there was a comic book dedicated to Firefighters, EMTs or Police Officers, let alone one that combined the three in an intriguing mystery.  The fact that the story was run in three separate series, culminating in one final series known as The Call, was an ingenious bit of marketing strategy.  Fans would be forced to buy three separate comic books to discover bits and pieces of the mystery as it was unraveled. 

            The storyline was enough to capture readers’ attention, but the artwork at times was stellar.  The cover art was striking and the interior art work was colorful and impressive.  The way the story was tied together in later issues which explained the appearance of the little girl was truly Marvel-esque and may seem like old hat to sci-fi fans.  However, I truly liked the tale.  That is, until I got to the four-part tie-up series entitled The Call

            The Call was supposed to be a spin-off continuation of all three stories combined into one; a continuation of events taking place in the aftermath of a fiery explosion.  However, with the appearance of Nick Fury and S.H.I.E.L.D., I was immediately turned off by the comic.  I had enjoyed the fact that the comic series took place outside of the superhero realm.  Bringing in a character fully ensconced in the Marvel hero genre bothered me.  The fact that the makers of this comic book felt that the original heroes of the comic needed the added assurance of an already successful Marvel hero irked me.  If 9/11 did nothing else, it proved that a person can be a hero without all of the flash and firepower.  What started off as being a terrific series ended in a shambles.  At least the writers had the courtesy of finishing the story for us before the comic series was shut down for good.          

            While I highly recommend The Call of Duty comic book series, I would caution readers that you may be left feeling disappointed after reading The Call.  You may just want to stop at the final installment of The Call of Duty.  However, if you’re a completist like me, you’ll just have to read the entire series from start to finish.   Unfortunately, it’s rather hard to find the now defunct series, so if you are really interested in finding it, I suggest hitting Amazon.com or eBay.


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