The Bluecoats Vol 17: The Draft Riots

By Lambil & CauvinTo Union soldiers run to escape the mob in New York city.
Publisher: Cinebook
ISBN: 9781800441248

The Union is struggling with manpower in its war with the Confederacy. Battles have taken their toll and volunteers are drying up. As a consequence, Lincoln and his advisors must rely on the draft. This, though, isn’t ideal, as the wealthy can buy their way out of it.

Chesterfield and Blutch are on duty in New York, helping to oversee a conscription office, when things turn nasty. In no time, a riot breaks out and their fellow soldiers flee the scene to deliver what conscripts they have, leaving Chesterfield and Blutch behind. Chesterfield’s all for talking it through, but Blutch can see the folly in this – and that the pair of them, in uniform, are going to be easy targets.

Their only option is to hide, but that ends up landing them right in the middle of the mob, where any false move could be the end of both of them.

In many respects, this is quite a dark and despairing story, highlighting the desperation of the common man. One conscript cannot even return home to inform his invalid mother that he won’t be taking care of her – surely a death sentence for her. As for our two heroes, trapped in the madness of the riots, every angry success by the mob leads to bolder acts of defiance and destruction. The hot-heads and most vocal are calling the shots and they have their suspicions about the two soldiers in disguise.

It’s not the first tale told away from the battlefield, but this story still felt dangerous and raw. A different artist, with a less cartoony-style, and a few tweaks to Cauvin’s script, would deliver a decidedly bleak and grim story. Fortunately, there’s just the right balance of humour to lighten the tone, without spoiling the message.

In my opinion, one of the best Bluecoats books to date.

And if you liked that: Volume 18 is on its way.

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