In Soldier/Sailor, Colonel Jacob Stone is tasked with taking down Armon Seafarer, Prince Regent of Atlantis, and a perceived threat to the US government. This should be an easy job for a decorated colonel. But there’s a problem—Jacob and Armon have history, which makes being enemies very difficult.
Micah Weltsch (Artist), Andrew Wheeler (Writer)
September 16, 2020
I haven’t read a Kickstarter-funded fanfiction book before, so I wasn’t sure what to expect from Soldier/Sailor. As I found out, it’s just a regular story with characters and elements that happen to be heavily inspired by existing mainstream heroes. And they get to be queer and intersect with other marginalizations that often get left out of mainstream superhero stories!
Jacob Stone is essentially an amalgamation of Captain America and Winter Soldier—which I loved. Stone has the responsibilities of a decorated hero who works for the government, plus the horrors and trauma of war and injury. He’s a disabled vet—he wears two prosthetics and is frequently shown without them throughout Soldier/Sailor.
That he has a disability is never brought up—Stone just is, and I absolutely love that. Readers are instead shown how Stone was badly injured and Armon’s people fitted him with the prospects. It’s not explicitly stated in the text, but it is clear from the art.
Before I get to Armon, I need to talk about the interplay between art and writing in Soldier/Sailor. It is so seamless, and they progress the story as a symbiotic unit. Mainstream comics have so much space to explore art and writing, but I often feel that the art is complementing the writing, not working with it. I did not feel like that in Soldier/Sailor—both aspects are on equal footing and they make the story feel more fulfilling because of that.
There’s this excellent moment when Stone is considering his orders to take down Armon. He doesn’t say anything, but his expression shows the reader exactly how he feels about the situation. I love that and I could definitely do with more of that in comics.
Back to Armon, Soldier/Sailor’s Namor, except very blue and without the ankle-wings. Armon doesn’t get to be the active voice in the story, but he has so much personality. He looks regal—even when he’s surprised in the Atlantean shower—and tough, but also comes across as vulnerable because of the responsibility on his shoulders and the hate he encounters from humanity.
The relationship between Jacob and Armon is almost like Romeo and Juliet—they are quite literally from different worlds at war because of differing ideologies. This makes me love the story even more—a queer Romeo and Juliet is just what I needed in this hell year!
What I didn’t expect to see in this book were the graphic sex scenes. Fanfiction is full of them, but I wasn’t sure how faithful Soldier/Sailor would be to that trope of the genre. Let’s just say, it’s very faithful! There are a number of sex scenes here and they don’t leave much to the imagination. Even on the final pages which are mostly text, there are stunning illustrations of Jacob and Armon getting hot and heavy. Fun times!
As much as I loved the sexy pages, I did want more plot and action. Jacob and Armon’s fight against the actual villain of Soldier/Sailor is unfortunately glossed over completely. I loved the romance between them, but I also wanted to see them fight side-by-side against the bad guys. Could we get an extended version of this book in the future with more action? From the Kickstarter page, it looks like the creative team is happy with the final product, but I hope they consider adding creating longer stories with these two.
But overall, I loved SoldierSailor. The connection between Jacob and Armon came across brilliantly and propelled the story—there’s nothing like a central romance that is both believable and attractive!
I adore the art—it looks so clean and polished and the colours pop right off the page. There’s this one panel of Armon in his Atlantean regalia that is gorgeously detailed—I went back to that panel so many times.
Soldier/Sailor deals with heavy subject matters like war and prejudice, but boils them down to the intimate relationship between two people who just want to be together. I like that it’s a queer superhero story because those are hard to find in mainstream comics, but I especially love the way the queerness was handled.
The world that Jacob and Armon inhabit is as unused to queer superheroes as the real world is, but that’s not emphasized by people openly gawking at them or any grand announcements. The importance of their queerness is to the characters is conveyed through the simple gesture of holding hands during battle. That’s so sweet and romantic to me.
I loved reading Soldier/Sailor—the story was lovely and soothing, even if it glossed over the action. The art was a treat for the eyes. The queering of the superhero genre was a joy to read—I’ve turned to fanfiction so often for queerness and it’s great to see that creatives are able to get financial backing to publish queer comics like this. I need more of this in the mainstream—and I need more of this story, period! I’m holding out hope for the creators to announce an extended version or a sequel part—I’ll certainly be lining up to read it.