Writer: Garth Ennis
Artist: Cam Kennedy
Publisher: DC Vertigo
An SAS team in North Africa during WWII takes on secret missions against the Germans, infiltrating and destroying airfields, blowing up supply lines, and, er, getting horrendously drunk and having their filthy way with inappropriate women. Two commanders vie for control of the unit, but the troops' loyalty is entirely towards the gung-ho guy, who we find out has something of an ulterior motive in leading this band of merry men, to do with his family's history as Reivers - one of four families continually vying violently for control of land on the England-Scotland border with no regard for personal safety or law. It all comes out before a major mission, but is it just too late for the men in his command?
Well, back again for another run of four issues, Garth Ennis's take on World War II, inspired by his childhood love of british kids war comics such as Battle, Warlord and Victor. If you approach this book expecting much more of the same as the first set of four, then you won't be disappointed - there's a serious tone to the piece, a point to be made, but moments of levity and black humour raise the grim situation occasionally, and save the whole thing careering inexorably towards a depressing end.
Of course, from page one you expect every single cast member to bite the dust...it's not for me to say whether Ennis bucks the trend, although from the setup the ending is inevitable, and it acknowledged by one or two characters midway through. They fight and strive against what they can see coming, to no avail. There's even time in the issue for an Ennis diatribe about the futility of Allied tank combat in WWII - educational as well as entertaining, then!
Cam Kennedy's art is tremendously restrained - even when the violence finally strikes you'd expect an Ennis comic to have limbs torn off, blood spurting everywhere, guts hanging out, but it's all done discretely (and, in my opinion, far more effectively than using gore) by Kennedy, with a subdued colour palate to reflect the sombre nature of the situation and the storyline.
Totally recommended, roll on the next three, and where's the bloody trade of the first four, DC?
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