is a fantasy comic book by writer Kurt Busiek
and penciller Carlos Pacheco, published by Wildstorm's Cliffhanger imprint. It first premiered as a six-issue miniseries in 2003.
The series is set in an Alternate History
Earth in which the United States of America is actually the United States of Columbia
, magic is real, and the First World War
is fought with and by dragons, spells, vampires and all other kinds of magical weapons and beings.
The story follows the protagonist, Fletcher Arrowsmith, as he joins the war effort on the side of the Allies, gets taught the rudiments of sorcery and engages in some brutal battles with the enemy Prussians.
Arrowsmith contains examples of:
- Ace Pilot
- Alternate History
- Badass Longcoat: The Prussian airmen's uniforms. Also various countries' infantry soldiers, who wear trenchcoats (natch).
- Beast of Battle: The dragons used for areal combat.
- Bilingual Bonus: Apart from a few plot-important scenes with Gallian characters, the dialogue is rendered in the language the characters are actually speaking.
- The Butcher: A squad of airmen earns the nickname "Butchers of Holbrück."
- Cheese-Eating Surrender Monkeys: Pointedly averted.
Captain Foxe (on the Gallian soldiers): They have to fight for the ground we fly over. Every foot, every inch of it paid for with blood. I admire them for it, respect them beyond measure, but I don't envy them.
- Cryptic Background Reference: There a lot of references to the things in the world that are never elaborated.
- Divided States of America: What would be the USA and Canada in our reality is (as of 1914) divided into the United States of Columbia, Acadia-Canada, Tejas, Deseret, California, Dakota, Newfoundland (Northern Canada and Alaska) and Grand Florida.
- If We Get Through This: As fatal as a family photo, and incredibly fast.
- Istanbul Not Constantinople: All of the European powers bear old names for the territories, like Prussia, Gallia and Albion.
- Not So Different: The sides of the war. Underlined with a Description Cut.
Captain Foxe: That's the difference between us and them — even if our wizards had the sort of minds that could even think of such things, we would never, never use them.
Cut to magister Boisrond testing the new weapons of mass destruction.
- Officer and a Gentleman: Fletcher thinks he should be one, but he's not, and neither are the other airmen. Later, the trope is defied in no uncertain terms.
Fletcher: I'm not a gentleman, all right? My father's a blacksmith!
- Oh Crap: Verduiveld! The attacking vampires are not even the enemy's!
- Our Dragons Are Different: Airmen are soldiers who fly by magically transferring the flight ability of a dragonet (baby dragon) into themselves. Each airman has his own dragonet companion who typically rides his shoulder, and he wears strips of skin shed by the dragonet's mother to help form a bond between them.
- Recycled IN SPACE!: First World War with magic!
- Shoulder-Sized Dragon: Soldiers bond with small "dragonets" by means of a rare mystical metal. This bond allows the soldiers to fly with their dragonets perched on their arms like hunting falcons.
- War Is Hell: Behind the dragons and mages is a very traditional First World War story.
- Worthy Opponent: The airmen don't kill enemy airmen who have been rendered harmless, and when they're able to recover their opponents' corpses, they are returned to their own side for the funeral. This is contrasted with what their bombings do to enemy civilians.
Fletcher: I wonder if they'd been so eager to [return the corpse] if they knew Foxe led the "Butchers of Holbrück."