Early Production Sketch, intended for the hardcover edition of the graphic novel collection

Unknown Soldier
©1997 DC Comics. All Rights Reserved.
by Garth Ennis & Tim Bradstreet
Graphic novel - published production sketch
Graphite on vellum
Signed by Tim Bradstreet
4.5" x 7.5"

Before Garth Ennis & Tim Bradstreet re-defined The Punisher, they took a discarded patriot from a cancelled DC war comic and turned him into a dangerous, cynical anti-hero for the new millennium. They did this back in 1997...

Garth Ennis was nominated for the Best Writer Eisner Award in 1993, 1994 & 1996 for his revitalizing work on Hellblazer and his swansong creation Preacher, but he didn't actually win an Eisner Award until he wrote The Unknown Soldier. Of course he also wrote Hitman and Bloody Mary in 1998, but the four-issue Unknown Soldier mini-series under the Vertigo imprint featuring art by Killian Plunkett actually helped relaunch the War comic as a genre. Ennis followed with War Story, and has positioned himself as one of the very best writers of battle fiction in comics. Tim Bradstreet's cover art on the individual issues and the graphic novel that collected the whole Unknown Soldier series helped establish the line look of the unlimited series that followed nearly a decade later (and which still runs today under the authorship of Joshua Dysart) but also influenced the reboot of that other forgotten war book, The Losers.

This version of the Unknown Soldier is much darker than the patriotic title of the 70s or even its somewhat sardonic progeny of the late 1980s. In Ennis' hands, the Unknown Soldier is responsible for numerous unspeakable war crimes, all performed in the line of duty to benefit the greater cause of United States military supremacy. When a fledgling CIA agent stumbles onto his trail, he's compelled to follow it down to an unsettling and poetic conclusion. The bandages became the character's trademark, and nowhere are they more significantly featured than in this early production drawing, which was set to be published in the 2008 hard cover collection –which (as of this writing) still hasn't been released.


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