Our friends over at Titan Books were kind enough to send over a copy of Garth Ennis Presents: Battle Classics a couple of days ago for me to review. While I had never had the pleasure of reading any of the strips from Battle Picture Weekly or as it later became known simply as Battle, I knew well some of the artists involved with the weekly strips like John Wagner (Judge Dredd, A History of Violence), Cam Kennedy (2000 AD, Rogue Trooper), John Cooper (Trekker, The ‘A’ Team), Mike Western (Computer Warrior, The Avenger), and I was of course very aware of Garth Ennis (Preacher, Hitman, The Boys).
In this excellent collection of strips from Battle, Ennis has picked his favorite stories from HMS Nightshade and The General Dies At Dawn, writing introductions for each as well as adding insight into them about the strip itself. With HMS Nightshade which was written by John Wagner and illustrated by Mike Western, we are introduced to George Dunn as he looks on with his Grandson at the final resting place of the HMS Nightshade, and we learn his story as he is telling it to the young boy. The strip is wonderfully illustrated but the writing by Wagner is something of a powerhouse, emotional and realistic.
The second strip entitled The General Dies At Dawn is rather odd as like HMS Nightshade it is a series of recollections from a man in the Military but in this case the recollections are from imprisoned General Otto Von Margen, hero of the Third Reich…awaiting his execution on charges of cowardice and treason.
Instead of telling his tales to his grandson like George Dunn in HMS Nightshade he is passing the time speaking with his jailer. Alan Hebden does a remarkable job of writing the General, showing us that he is a man made for war and doesn’t hold his thoughts of contempt about the SS and such to himself…which is why he is being made an example of and being executed…for the treasonous acts of not blowing up a bridge with children on it.
Ennis has also picked three short stories that were published in Battle: Clash by Night and Hot Wheels by Cam Kennedy, and Private Loser by David Hunt.
Garth Ennis Presents: Battle Classics really is a nice collection of UK war comics, if you are a comic book fan you should certainly add it to your library. The book has already been released and you can purchase it at your local book store or at Amazon.Com, you’ll be glad you did!