War is Boring by David Axe and Matt Bors – review

War is Boring by David Axe, illustrated by Matt Bors, is powerful in its accumulated weight of boredom, death and more boredom. If I wanted to be cute, I’d call it an existential exploration of meaning in the face of depravity, but I’m not good at cute.

On the other hand, I can’t say it would be entirely wrong to throw “existential” at it and run with it. The narrator suffers from simultaneously finding war and peace both boring, though the latter more so.  Throughout the text, you don’t find any easy answers, any stereotypical refuges for hope. If there’s a god at this dinner party, it’s running a bit more than fashionably late. Instead, meaning seems to be searched for at home with girlfriends and parties, with family and friends. Abroad, it is glimpsed in the dregs of whatever society is being torn apart, in the drivers who show the narrator all of the sights, and in taking flights home with the living remains of someone who used to have far more remains attached to their body.

And humanity is never really found. The author’s quest for excitement or meaning comes up empty. Instead, what seems to be found is pessimism and desperation, both in abundance. While the scenes from “home” are fare fewer than his time in Iraq, Afghanistan, Chad and Lebanon, there is a strong impression that the desperation and pessimism encountered in these far flung places are just as prevalent at home, only in different ways. He soon becomes bored, he gets tired of covering conferences and having to wear a tie, he runs out of things to talk about with his girlfriend, and he reveals a life changing revelation over spaghetti to his parents that culminates in how he’ll be okay if everyone would just leave him the fuck alone.  Oh, and that Mogadishu has rally good pasta.

Which may make it all the odder that he chooses to go to Chad to cover Darfur. But I like to think it is the idea of humanity prevailing, even in the face of such pessimism. After all, he goes because it matters, and if it matters, then I think the logical assumption is that everything he has covered has mattered, even if he didn’t believe so at the time.Or even if he realizes it.

Which would be fine if you don’t read the afterward, but I did, and what I think is  really left is a sense of confusion. Axe doesn’t seem entirely sure why anything happens or why any of it matters, but from his reasoning to go to Chad, from his simple ability to keep getting up and to keep doing what he’s doing, I think it speaks for itself that it does matter, regardless of whether or not we can discover or articulate why.


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One Response to “War is Boring by David Axe and Matt Bors – review”

  1. War Is Boring » “Powerful in Its Accumulated Weight of Boredom, Death and More Boredom … “ Says:

    […] belated but generous review of War is Boring, the graphic novel: Axe doesn’t seem entirely sure why anything happens […]

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