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So Smart in Their Fine Uniforms (Arrowsmith, Book 1)

3.81  ·  Rating details ·  373 ratings  ·  49 reviews
Combining reality and fantasy to create an alternate world in which magic and science have coexisted for centuries, ArrowSmith: So Smart in Their Fine Uniforms presents the tale of a young hero's coming of age during a period of war and wizardry. With World War I engulfing Europe, young Fletcher Arrowsmith runs away from home to serve his country as one of the elite airmen ...more
Paperback, 160 pages
Published August 1st 2004 by Wildstorm
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Average rating 3.81  · 
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 ·  373 ratings  ·  49 reviews

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Timothy Boyd
Dec 05, 2019 rated it liked it
Very nice alternate Historical Fantasy comic. Very interesting plot and world. Good art and an entertaining read. Recommended
J.G. Keely
Jan 15, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: comics, fantasy, reviewed
Every Busiek comic I've read feels like a workshop for telling stories in the comic book medium. He fills his books with so much character and charm, weaving long and short plot arcs and always focussing on psychological progression. He just makes it look so easy.

There is something rudimentary in this collection, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. Busiek is staying very true to his sources, lifting liberally from War Stories and Fairy Tales, using all the cliches, but somehow, making us car
Jan 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: digital, x2019
Arrowsmith is fantasy take on World War. The small town boys decided to join the air service - the bunch of guys who ride the skies thanks to magic spells, draining their flight energy from small dragons. The setting is quite interesting, got a steampunk feeling (but it is not steampunk - it's just the same era just with mythical names for the countries, where Europe is some kind of fantasy land with trolls, vampires, gnomes, dwarfs, dryads and so living alongside humans). Although the setting c ...more
Jude McLaughlin
Mar 03, 2016 rated it liked it
I really like the worldbuilding (United States of Columbia indeeeeeed) and concept of the fantasy WWI.

However, our main character is a typical straight white dude who is, of course, exceptional which... *yawn*. We never see any women doing magic at all. No female mages, etc. We never see any people of color. Are the POCs' places taken by the supernatural beings? It's a very white world, and very male -- the only women we get are sexual objects (or, in the case of "Binnie Atherton", antisexual o
Jun 23, 2018 rated it liked it
I didn't like it as much as I wanted to. There is some gorgeous artwork, but - and I believe this is the point - adding magic to World War I doesn't make it any less depressing. Also, it felt like the youth of the main protagonist should have mattered more. He started young where he had to run away to join, but then he seemed like any other, older recruit. Other characters were more interesting.
Jun 07, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: comics, fantasy, ww1
Interesting "concept" idea (WWI fought with magic) filled with pleasant details but very dull story (coming of age of an idealist farmboy) full of all available stereotype and compulsory figure (best friend's death, heroic paternal figure's death, sex scene with rich girl, etc.)
On the other hand, the art of Carlos Pacheco (whose work I wasn't familiar with up till now) is beautiful and beautifully colored.
Apr 04, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Wow, what a great book! I love the setting, the writing, the art, the story. Must find more!
Brian Rogers
Jan 01, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: comics
It took me a while to track this down, and while I'm happy I read it I also understand why it never caught on. The high concept - WWI in an alternate timeline with magic - isn't a natural one, and the book doesn't give enough depth to explain how the world ended up so like our own with the magic in place. The WWI setting is so intrinsically bleak, with characters being introduced to be killed off by the pointlessness of the war as our protagonist becomes increasingly disillusioned, keeps it from ...more
I think 3.5 stars would be my real mark. It's quite a interesting story, better than I expected. It depicts the WW1 developed in an alternative fairy-punk reality which reminds me a lot to the "Castle Falkenstein" tabletop RPG. The comic follows the adventures of his protagonist, Fletcher Arrowsmith, a boy from the U.S. of Columbia which leaves home to join up a unit of "american" military "pilots" (they fly by means of magic, not planes) fighting in European Great War. The story shows the shock ...more
Mar 22, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: loeg-archives
Not bad, but way, way too similar to Busiek's Shockrockets. Small-town hero, dreams of excitement and adventure, joins fantastic heroic team, finds romance, struggles to fit in, loses friend, accomplishes some big success, finds terrible secret.

Good work, but I feel like Busiek is just re-treading an old plot in a superficially different setting.
Jul 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
one of the best alternative ww I ever , pure magic !!!!!
Reprints Arrowsmith Web Preview and Arrowsmith #1-6 ( ). Fletcher Arrowsmith wants to help the world. When a war with the Prussians breaks out in Europe, Fletcher leaves his Connecticut home on Lake Erie and joins the Overseas Aero Corps with his friend Jonathan Kerry. As the war rages, Fletch and Jonathan learn to use magic to fly and Fletch falls in love with the daughter of a millionaire named Grace Hilliard. As Fletcher and Jonathan enter the war, Fletcher learns that war is not what he expe ...more
Nov 25, 2016 rated it really liked it
I think that perhaps the folks who are complaining about the "clichés" or "stereotypes" found in Kurt Busiek and Carlos Pacheco wonderful series Arrowsmith might be missing the point. Busiek has made a name for himself by revisiting classic stories and ideas and giving them a fresh look. Keep in mind that he helped start a comics imprint called "Homage Comics."

With Arrowsmith, Busiek takes the classic "fresh-faced boy goes off to war to fight the good fight and make a difference, while along the
Michael Smith
Nov 27, 2014 rated it really liked it
It’s 1915 and World War I is raging in Europe while America sits it out, . . . only this is a world where weapons are thaumaturgical, the volunteer Overseas Aero Corps flies without planes, the Bosch call up trolls and demons, and the Northern Gods are becoming disgusted with the whole thing. Fletcher Arrowsmith, son of a small-town blacksmith with isolationist tendencies, seeks not just glory but the chance to do something, to take part in the battle against evil. He and a friend leave home, en ...more
Dec 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: graphic-novels
The high concept is easy and powerful: what if World War 1 was fought with magic and not science. Oceanliners become powered by magic instead of steam, werewolves and vampires stalk the battelfields, and wizards concoct new more dangerous spells in a desperate attempt to gain advantage. Everything familiar becomes new. If that isn't enough, the writer and artist create a compelling buildingsroman as nascent hero Fletcher Arrowsmith learns how fleeting human life and its aspirations can be during ...more
Bill Williams
Sep 29, 2015 rated it liked it
ArrowSmith: So Smart in Their Fine Uniforms is an alternate history war story set during World War I. Young Fletcher Arrowsmith dreams of flying and in a world full of Gods, monsters and wizards, his dream can come true if he travels to Europe to fight the enemy. So he joins the war effort, meets a girl, loses some friends, becomes disillusioned. etc. There is not a post-modern war trope that this books does not pull out and give a good once over. There are excellent little details here and ther ...more
Oct 17, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: comics
A fairly capable book. The premise is novel and entertaining, though not perhaps entirely original. I suppose it works just as you would expect a World War I story involving magic to play out. Busiek creates a lush fantasy world, and I really enjoyed the alternate political names and boundaries he gives us (The United States of Columbia, Arcadia, Gallia, etc.) The story seemed to be setting up for some interesting conflicts down the road--it's a shame nothing else came after this volume.
An awesomely entertaining graphic novel by Kurt Busiek is Arrowsmith: So Smart in Their Fine Uniforms. The story takes place during World War I, and there are tons of fantastical creatures on both sides of the fighting: wizards, vampires, zombies, trolls, and many more. The best part: the flying wizards that get their power of flight from the dragonets that perch on their shoulders and fight in the skies with both guns and swords!
Oliver Hodson
Nov 13, 2016 rated it really liked it
I'm not sure why i thought this was in the astro city universe, maybe just some ads in the trade i read, but it's not. It is however in a pretty cool world where there is magic as the main technology advance, instead of science. The problems for the world are just as dire, with a WWI style sorcerer's war on the go, and this is the focus of this exciting war. The lessons are not new, but boy the story hums with familiar and new elements woven seemlessly together for a satisfying synthesis.
Jul 31, 2007 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: people with an hour to kill
Shelves: comics
Nothing special, really. An engaging, well conceived alternate history war story. Life needs reads like this. The art is generic WildStorm standard. The character designs are very nice. Busiek writes well, occasionally very well. The world created is finely-textured, and I hope that the team gets around to revisiting it some time, as there is a whole lot of story that doesn't get told..
May 20, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: graphic-novel
Alternate history of WWI with magic. The world-building is clever and magic is done well. The story itself isn't remarkably original, but the setting is. I did like that the magic-users seemed to be in over their heads. The art is really good for the story.

Apparently this is all there is of Fletch Arrowsmith; that's a shame, because this reads well as the first part of a long story arc.
Sep 15, 2010 rated it really liked it
A great alternative history / fantasy story that depicts the horrors of war during WWI. Quite an appropriate read after just having finished "All Quiet on the Western Front" too. I just love anything that Kurt Busiek does and the artwork was top notch too.
Ryan McArthur
Sep 12, 2011 rated it really liked it
I love alternate history, and really liked this book.
I did wonder where they got all of the things that went into thier heels (i was thinking maybe from killing Trolls or something), but this was never explored. Oh well, looking forward to the next one :)
Anna Kim
I started this expecting it to be a straightforward adventure story, so I was surprised that this actually turned out to be a pretty scathing indictment of war. Nice pacing and detailed illustrations make this a recommended read.
Nov 02, 2013 rated it really liked it
A raw view on war in general, Arrowsmith takes a decidedly anti-war stance even while the main characters are still fighting an alternate universe version of WWI with magic, dragons, vampires, werewolves, Norse gods, et al.
M.A. Ray
Jan 06, 2016 rated it really liked it
I really wish there were more of this. I love the worldbuilding: a magical version of WWI. The message and characters were a little cliche, but it was really well-drawn. I recommend this to anyone who enjoys horror-of-war stories.
Apr 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
I can tell that Busiek took extreme care in drawing the parallels with fantasy, emigration and WWI during this era. So much to include elements of chemical warfare as magic. Very masterfully done - I do recommend this, especially since it does not romanticize the war.
Feb 01, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: comics, other-worlds
One of the best comics I have ever read. A fascinating alternate history of WW1 with magic.
Elizabeth Wallace
Jun 21, 2008 rated it really liked it
VERY cool. A World Ware I adventure, except with magic. And dragons. And werewolves. And...yeah, you get the idea. Nicely illustrated too.
Eric Jackson
May 23, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: graphic-novel
I looked for this one for awhile and when I finally got it, it was meh.
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Kurt Busiek is an American comic book writer notable for his work on the Marvels limited series, his own title Astro City, and his four-year run on Avengers.

Busiek did not read comics as a youngster, as his parents disapproved of them. He began to read them regularly around the age of 14, when he picked up a copy of Daredevil #120. This was the first part of a continuity-heavy four-part story arc;

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