While out cycling on Calgary’s Nose Hill, 15-year-old Robert Tourond finds a meteorite. It is 1943 and Robert is far from the war raging in Europe and Asia, but the meteorite seems to represent a special link to his three brothers, who are fighting overseas. In a letter home, Robert’s brother Patrick mentions seeing a shooting star, and Robert’s beloved comic books feature meteorites in their plots. The line between reality and fiction begins to blur for Robert as he becomes convinced that the comic-book heroes are helping keep his brothers safe. When Patrick is declared missing in action, Robert starts searching the comics for hidden messages, believing they will help locate his brother.
To pay for the comics, Robert takes a job delivering telegrams, a duty he shares with a girl nicknamed “Crazy Charlie.” When Charlie delivers a devastating telegram to Robert’s house, the reality of war obliterates his comic book imaginings.
The Comic Book War completes author Jacqueline Guest’s trilogy, which also includes Belle of Batoche and Outcasts of River Falls, though it stands well on its own. Framing the story against the backdrop of comic books works on a few levels, offering insight into Robert’s thoughts and feelings, and lightening the tone. Only the few passages of historical background are somewhat dry. Otherwise, Guest’s sensitive writing has a satisfying depth.