When I sat down to watch Sylvain White’s big screen adaptation of the Andy Diggle and Jock comic book The Losers we were introduced to the film by Diggle and Jock themselves who told those present that they hadn’t seen the finished version and they would be enjoying it for the first time along with us.

I do wonder what they made of White’s film, as I made clear in my review I wasn’t too taken with it, and though it must have been pretty cool to see their characters, dialogue and set pieces the resulting adaptation is far more formulaic than its origins.

So, let’s go back to source here, as those taken with the film will no doubt chose to discover the comic book origin and Vertigo have obliged and released The Losers Volumes 1 & 2. Here’s the blurb,

With the eagerly anticipated Warner Bros. Pictures movie The Losers set to reach theaters in April 2010, DC Comics collects the first twelve issues of THE LOSERS — from the ANTE UP and DOUBLE DOWN TPs — into a single, explosive volume!

This collection introduces The Losers, formerly an elite U.S. Special Forces unit that served as the covert bloody hand of America until they stumbled across a C.I.A. secret they couldn’t ignore. The C.I.A. tried to kill them, but they’re about to learn that it takes more than one try to eliminate The Losers.

What leads us through the cliches of the story are the characters we find caught up in revenge mission, and they make an enjoyable collection on the page, there’s a flurry of banter and the explosive set pieces which are what separate the book from the film – the build up is greater on the page, while the execution is better on screen.

The story kicks off from the very first page, and the dark, kinetic artwork by Jock assists the pacing, explosions abound and wises are cracked – this is another example of where the cool guys walk away from the fireballs without thinking about looking back. The character of Aisha al-Fadhil, played by Zoe Saldana in the film is given a far better backstory in the comics, and the treatment of her character is one of the failings of the film, but in Andy Diggle’s work she is a far more mysterious and forceful character, and acts as a better counterpoint to the testosterone fuelled company of Losers.

The mystery of Max, virtually non-existent in the film, is an ongoing theme of the comic and at journey’s end his identity is not revealed, and there’s a few less cliches on offer here to make it worth your while if you’re a comic book fan.

Chances are that you won’t find any attempt at subversion in such a well worn idea, but the pace and set pieces make it a good read, even if you weren’t totally taken with the film.

The Losers Volumes 1 & 2 are published by Vertigo Books and are available now.