Monday, May 11, 2009

Battlefields: The Tankies

Here's how this works. I read a book or two and tell you about them and try not to get too long-winded. This time, a review of Battlefields: The Tankies # 1 (Dynamite, 2009).

Since DC finally balked at publishing his over-the-top superhero satire The Boys, Dynamite has become the de facto home of writer Garth Ennis, who's lately been paying tribute to the British war comics of his youth with a number of three-issue mini-series tackled by different artists. Since I'm a huge fan of Ennis's frequent collaborator Carlos Ezquerra, I decided to give this one a try. Sometimes their work together is pretty wonderful, sometimes it's a little unsatisfying, but the art's guaranteed to be nice. Dynamite seems to be offering each of their mini-series in two formats: three $3.50 issues or a skinny $12.99 book that collects the singles. That's a little high of a price point for something so thin, no matter how much I like the Ezquerras' artwork.

Earlier this year, Carlos's son Hector took up his pen as inker for his dad's work, starting on a completely wonderful new Strontium Dog serial in 2000 AD called "Blood Moon." The Ezquerras continue their collaboration in this story of a no-nonsense Geordie tank commander ("You name it, an' ah've baled oot o' the bastad.") who tries to get an armored division back on course to relieve infantry in France, 1944. Meanwhile, after a German POW turns a pair of scissors on a medic, orders are given to execute all surrendering jerries until further notice.

It's over-the-top and gory and foul-mouthed as you might expect, and I think it's unfortunate that Ennis chose to not rein in the shocks while scripting something much more layered and mature than the comics of his childhood. The plot itself is more adult than most of what used to appear in the pages of Battle Picture Weekly and Warlord; the grim violence simply isn't necessary. This isn't at all a bad comic, and I look forward to the next two parts, but it's markedly less interesting than his wonderful take on Battler Britton from a few years ago, which, you'll note, wasn't punctuated with decapitations and legs burned to the bone. Recommended for older readers.

No comments: