War Stories Vol. 1

June 14, 2004 | Trades


War Stories Vol. 1
Garth Ennis, Chris Weston, Gary Erskine, John Higgins, Dave Gibbons, David Lloyd
Vertigo/DC Comics
$30.95/$19.99 US (Paperback)
**** (out of five)

War stories always evoke a strange mix of sadness and pride. When you’re finished reading them you’re not sure if you should weep or wave a flag.
It doesn’t matter which side you’re coming from or how much time passes and it doesn’t even matter if you have family members affected by the war. Knowing the numbers of dead won’t do it, nor will reading a historical account.
But the stories of the men and women, whether truthful, or simply based on historical events, like the four stories in Garth Ennis’ War Stories Vol. 1, will get you every time.
Having created the spectacularly twisted Preacher series and taken The Punisher to even higher levels of bizarre violence, Ennis has now turned his attention to the horror of war. In typical Ennis fashion, it isn’t the graphic nature of the comic book medium that makes it so horrific, it’s the psychological aspect.
Ennis has a very sly way of making readers care about his characters, even though some, if not many, are morally questionable, and occasionally reprehensible. But war stories are also the perfect genre for Ennis to work in, as the whole subject is often one giant gray area.
Stories range from a German tank crew trying to make it out of the last days of the war without being killed, to the last four members of a U.S. airborne regiment out of 140 who jumped on D-Day — only to be sent on a fool’s errand by their superiors, to a British ship and crew cursed by all around her after surviving a slaughter on the open seas.
But just a few weeks after the anniversary of the event, the story that stings most is the tale of the D-Day Dodgers, allied troops slogging away in the battle for Italy, doomed to die in the mud while the whole world turned its attention to France.
Joined by a all-star lineup of artists, including Chris Weston and Gary Erskine (The Filth), John Higgins (Hellblazer), Dave Gibbons (Watchmen), and David Lloyd (V For Vendetta), Ennis has taken war comics to a dark, but smart place they’ve seldom been, opening eyes, minds and tear ducts in the process.

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