A More Perfect Union CP01

Cinema Purgatorio #1, A More Perfect Union cover by Michael DiPascale
Cinema Purgatorio #1, A More Perfect Union cover by Michael DiPascale

Below are annotations for “The First Day.” 8 pages in Cinema Purgatorio #1

Writer: Max Brooks, Artist: Michael DiPascale

>Go to Cinema Purgatorio annotations index
>Go to A More Perfect Union annotations index

Note: Some of this is obvious, but you never know who’s reading and what their exposure is. If there’s anything we missed or got wrong, let us know in comments.

General: Colonel Thomas Chamberlain discusses his lack of confidence with his dead brother Joshua Chamberlain. Thomas Chamberlain then rallies his troops for the battle ahead.


  • Gettysburg, Pennsylvania is the site of one of the most important Civil War battles. The Battle of Gettysburg took place July 1–3, 1863.
  • In the author’s notes Brooks states “The cover map shows the rail line going in and out from the town of Gettysburg. In the real war the line wasn’t finished yet. In this alternate timeline, it has been completed.”

Page 1

panel 1

  • The American Flag has 34 stars. This version of the flag, now called a Union Civil War 34-Star, was flown by the U.S. from 1861-1863. See flag history.
  • “July 1st, 1862” was the first day of the Battle of Gettysburg.

Page 2

Joshua Chamberlain. Photo via Wikipedia
Joshua Chamberlain. 1860s photo via Wikipedia

panel 1

  • First appearance of Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain. As Brooks explains in the author’s notes, Joshua Chamberlain (1828-1914) was “one of the most famous heroes of the Civil War” and one of the main commanders in the Battle of Gettysburg.
  • Joshua Chamberlain is speaking, and shown in a photograph (or perhaps reflected in a mirror?), so his voice bubble doesn’t point toward his image.
  • Brooks and DiPascuale employ a misdirection here. At the time of the actual Civil War, Joshua Chamberlain was a colonel. Readers familiar with the Civil War assume “Colonel Chamberlain” refers to Joshua Chamberlain, but, as is made clearer later in this story, here it refers to his brother Thomas Chamberlain.

panel 2

Thomas Chamberlain. Image via Wikipedia
Thomas Chamberlain. Image via Wikipedia
  • First appearance of Thomas Davee Chamberlain. As Brooks explains in the author’s notes, Thomas Chamberlain (1841-1896) was an actual Civil War officer and the younger brother of Joshua Chamberlain.
  • Brooks and DiPascale’s history diverges from actual history. Thomas Chamberlain was not a colonel, but a lieutenant colonel. As is revealed on P4 and P8, Joshua Chamberlain is dead (appearing here a ghost or a hallucination), and Thomas Chamberlain is now colonel. This does not bode well for the Union, as Joshua Chamberlain was a decorated hero, and, though Thomas Chamberlain was a “decent enough officer,” he was not the major hero his brother was.

Page 3

panel 1-3

  • “Mutineers… Deserters… Make them do their duty…” refers to the incident Brooks describes in the author’s notes “Right before Gettysburg, he was tasked with guarding a mob of deserters and allowed to shoot them if they didn’t follow orders. Instead he somehow talked them into joining the 20th Maine.”

panel 5

  • According to Wikipedia, Joshua Chamberlain was indeed a professor of rhetoric before the war.

Page 4

panel 3

  • Thomas Chamberlain “struggled with alcoholism” according to Brooks’ notes.

panel 4

  • Thomas calls his brother “Lawrence” as Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain’s birth name was Lawrence Joshua Chamberlain.

panels 5-6

  • These form a fixed-camera sequence.
  • Joshua Chamberlain evaporates because he is actually dead, and a figment of his brother’s imagination.

Page 5 – no specific annotations

James Zimmerman. Image via findagrave.com
James Zimmerman. Image via findagrave.com

Page 6

  • First appearance of James Calvin Zimmerman, described by Brooks as “a pretty obscure figure in the real Civil War.”
  • Again diverging from actual history, Zimmerman was a “Confederate infantryman” though here he is being commanded by a Union colonel.

Page 7

  • “The elephant” apparently refers to the alien invaders (not yet shown).

Page 8

panel 2

  • “I lost my big brother” makes it clear that Joshua Chamberlain is dead.

panels 5-6

>Go to Purgatorio Annotations Index
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>Go to Cinema Purgatorio 2 A More Perfect Union annotations

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