October 1st, 2009

Writer: Garth Ennis
Illustrator: Carlos Ezquerra
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment

The preface.Dead weight.
Cock oops and revelations.Certain doom.

The Tankies is the bloodiest of Garth Ennis’ Battlefields trilogy, but it’s not without substance. Just as it’s about armored infantry and war, so is it about classism and comradery. The Tankies is the story of a novice crew of British tank operators (“tankies”) in the Battle of Normandy. They’ve been left prostrate on the battlefield as their commander, Lt. Archie Wingate, has just been relieved of his head by an artillery shell. Cpl. Stiles, an ill-tempered veteran with a Geordie accent, has been assigned to replace Lt. Wingate. To a bunch of green Londoners, he’s not the ideal leader, but he’s their only hope of navigating the Normandy woodlands and making their rendezvous. Still, worse than the unaccommodating terrain and the indecipherable speech of Cpl. Stiles, is the threat of German Tiger tanks. Cpl. Stiles himself describes them saying, “Shite, man, the armor’s foor fookin’ inches thick, an’ the goon’ll slice through ‘owt we’ve got. That eighty-eight, that’s been Jerry’s trump card since nineteen bloody forty.” Compared with a Tiger, their Churchill is just as slow and has decent armor, but it’s outmatched in terms of firepower. If they are to survive the day, the tankies must avoid these goliaths at all costs. But, really, how likely is that? Not bloody.

May 7th, 2009

Dear Billy Vol. 1 TPB CoverDear Billy is the second of three, three-issue historical-fiction comics that Garth Ennis has written for his “Battlefields” series. Published by Dynamite Entertainment, Dear Billy features Peter Snjeberg on page-to-page art, with cover art by John Cassaday and Gary Leach.

Dear Billy is a story set during World War 2 and narrated by its protagonist Carrie Sutton in the form of a letter. Sombre pencils from Peter Snejbjerg do well to set the tone for Dear Billy as Carrie tells the tale of her first-hand experiences of the hardship of war, not as a soldier or a lonely wife or girlfriend back home, but as a survivor. She tells the story of her silent suffering, her loneliness, her vengeance, her shame, her love, and of Britishness.

I don’t have much more to add in the way of personal commentary on Dear Billy. As was the case with The Night Witches (whose story is unrelated to Dear Billy’s, by the way), Garth Ennis has not disappointed me with a war story of his yet. One thing I will say is that I’d be hard pressed to name a book that I’ve read wherein its characters are drawn with such deliberately chilling facial expressions. I may give DC’s The Mighty another try after seeing Peter Snejbjerg’s work in Dear Billy.