IDW Publishing and Charlie Foxtrot Entertainment release in September 2011 a graphic novel entitled Code Word: Geronimo. Captain Dale Dye (USMC, Ret) and Dr. Julia Dye, Ph.D., write the story based upon the true events that happened during the raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. Gerry Kissell and Amin Amat illustrate the pictures in this graphic novel and John M. Del Vecchio adds an afterword called “Code Word: Geronimo – Perspectives.” For every purchase of the graphic novel, a portion of the proceeds is donated to the American Veterans Center.
The graphic novel depicts the events that led up to the compound raid by SEAL Team 6 and its canine, Cairo. President Obama, government leaders, and military officers take risks in gathering intelligence and making delicate decisions. Once the decision is made to pursue the elusive international terrorist, President Obama gives the order to execute Operation Neptune Spear. SEAL Team 6 makes preparations for the offensive and performs its duties with utmost precision. The United States citizenry then breathes a sigh of relief upon receiving news of bin Laden’s death and the success of the mission.
Although the graphic novel nobly attempts to portray a story that is historic and approachable, I cannot say that I enjoy reading it. I generally do not like comic books and graphic novels. The sensitive and classified information surrounding the true story allows for a heavy dose of creative and artistic license to come to the forefront. Hence, the reader wonders whether the depictions are true to reality or not. The form of the graphic novel also gives the impression that the recent historical events are somehow fictionally or casually treated. Unless the artwork is superbly spectacular or remarkable, the captions and figures tend to be stark and distracting. In other words, I’d rather read a text than spend my time peering at colors and squiggles.
A question also comes up in my mind when I think about to whom this graphic novel attempts to reach. No matter how I look at it, the result bothers me. If this graphic novel is directed towards children, then the fact that depictions of blood and violence fill a few pages, no matter how sanitized the authors make it, warrants that parents should guide or prevent their children from consuming it. If the graphic novel is directed to just young adults, then I am left with the impression that the group does not want to put forth an effort to read real books. This impression bothers me because it reinforces the idea that young adults want everything given to them in an easy to consume format. It is another piece of evidence that there is a “dumbing down” of America.
I would have more respect for this graphic novel if it had been more politically charged. However, it avoids controversy and makes sure that its depictions of political leaders and reactions are neutral. There is new information in Del Vecchio’s afterword that clarifies the circumstances surrounding terms and people, but because of Captain Dye’s “security concerns” to the members of SEAL Team 6 and other participants, relevant information is lacking (81). The question then arises if this work depicting the event has been released too soon.
I also have to note that President Obama’s depiction has appeared in quite a few graphic novels and comic books. He may be the only one that benefits positively from this exposure; either that or the frequent appearance of his depiction may turn him into a passing fad or a clichéd stock character. I can’t think of a recent president who has had this much iconic positive exposure as much as President Obama.
This graphic novel is approachable to anyone who likes the genre, but it is not substantial for consumers with a more critical eye or too explicit for an impressionable child. The work gears itself best towards young adults. Parents must read this first before allowing their young children to read it.