Cold War Correspondent (Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales) | Review
Cold War Correspondent: A Korean War Tale
by Nathan Hale
Amulet Books, $14.99
The eleventh in the Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales series — an impressive run! — covers the most modern period yet. Cold War Correspondent is the story of Marguerite Higgins, a reporter who found herself trapped in Korea when the Communists took Seoul in 1950.
The cast of series narrators has expanded. Captured spy Nathan Hale, telling historical adventures to hold off his hanging, and the Hangman and the Provost (a stuffy British soldier) have been joined by Bill Richmond, the real-life man who tied the rope for the execution (and who later became the first African-American international prizefighter). But they have little to do in this volume, with very few of their typical interruptions, jokes, or commentary.
As a reporter, Higgins seizes her own story. There’s some background that has to be established — dividing Korea at the 38th Parallel, the history of Japanese occupation, and Cold War game-playing — before we meet Higgins as a Far East correspondent for The New York Herald Tribune.
The emphasis on action that permeates the series continues with an invasion and tank warfare and air combat. In the meantime, Higgins keeps traveling into the crisis and filing stories and meeting notables such as General MacArthur.
It takes a certain kind of person to hear that Seoul’s being invaded and decide to get there as soon as possible. I’d have liked to have known more about her, her feelings and motivations, but she’s treated here as more of a narrator for the war activities. There are mentions of people trying to get her out of the action because she’s a woman, but I would have expected the subject to be addressed a bit more than it is.
At the end, Higgins notes that the war continued for three more years and there was no satisfactory ending. Which makes this volume a mixed bag. There’s plenty of war adventure, but we don’t get much detail beyond seeing plenty of her determination and courage.
There are some valuable points about the importance of differing perspectives and reporting the truth, but they’re mentioned in a panel or two. The couple of pages of photos of Maggie Higgins and the soldiers at the end provide valuable reminders of the real people behind this graphic novel.
Johanna Draper Carlson has been reviewing comics for over 20 years. She manages ComicsWorthReading.com, the longest-running independent review site online that covers all genres of comic books, graphic novels, and manga. She has an MA in popular culture, studying online fandom, and was previously, among many other things, webmaster for DC Comics. She lives in Madison, Wisconsin.
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