It is almost a straight copy as regards the outlines of the action, but Lichtenstein intensifies and also subverts the comic. For instance, he replaces the flame at the end of the machine gun's barrel with speed stripes showing the paths of the bullets, making the image more kinetic.
He also strips the composition down to basics, taking out the landscape background as well as the human element; in the comic, the machine-gunner's hand and helmet were seen, but these have been removed.
The colour palette has also been altered, the large areas of black making the image much more stark and the black-and-white patterns creating a tighter, more formal image which vibrates with intense energy.
Some critics accused Lichtenstein of giving fascistic and militaristic tendencies a platform. In his defence, he said that the device was purely formal and without political intent. Perhaps he was being disingenuous, as the picture subverts the military adventure comic just as much as painting a comic book frame subverts what the art world expected from an oil painting.
The text is intriguing. While the image reflects the brutal simplicity of machine gun fire, the text focuses on the discomforts of the soldiers, and only after a string of subordinate clauses does the sentence finally end 'kept fighting'. The strangely contorted sentence seems at odds with the onomatopoeic 'takka takka' sound of the machine gun; and while the caption is all about the soldiers, the image completely misses them out, an absence which is meant to be noticeable.
Was Lichtenstein, like the Italian Futurists, in love with the shiny world of machinery and progress? Or was he making a statement about the way removes the humanity from humans? Or was he, as he said he was, simply making a formally pleasing image out of a found object? Whatever his intentions, he created a painting of incredible power that makes the viewer think about war - and painting - in a new way.