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 21st, 2009

Cover of The Punisher #58Valley Forge, Valley Forge is the final story that Garth Ennis wrote for The Punisher which spanned issues #55 – #60. The story’s art was done by Goran Parlov, with covers by Tim Bradstreet, and has been collected in a TPB as Punisher MAX Vol. 10 by Marvel.

Valley Forge, Valley Forge features two stories in one which parallel each other throughout the book. On one hand, and foremost, there is the story of Frank Castle who, with the help of Nick Fury, discovers that the source of the recent attempts on his life are eight senior Army and Air Force officers that have been trying to recover some damning evidence which Frank has come to possess. On the other, there’s a story told through a book from which this story’s name is derived, “Valley Forge, Valley Forge: The Slaughter of a U.S. Marine Garrison and the Birth of The Punisher”. Therein, author Michael Goodwin tells a Vietnam story as the brother of a soldier who served in a platoon under the leadership of Captain Frank Castle.

Though it was difficult to choose which Punisher story to feature, I was sure it would end up being one of Garth Ennis’. This may well be my favorite Punisher arc that he’s written, rivaling even those done with Steve Dillion. Valley Forge, Valley Forge marks the end of a sixty issue run on Punisher MAX, so although it ties up much of what Ennis laid the groundwork for over the years, there aren’t many references made that will go over your head. It’s a story that can stand alone, and it’s a must-read if you’re at all a fan of The Punisher.

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.

February 12th, 2009

The Night Witches is the first of three, three-issue historical-fiction comics that Garth Ennis has written for his “Battlefields” series. Published by Dynamite Entertainment, The Night Witches features Russ Braun on page-to-page art, with cover art by John Cassaday and Gary Leach.
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August 1st, 2008

Once in a while I stumble upon a comic creator that is so good at what they do that it’s very difficult not to obsess over them for a good long while. This has happened to me in the past with Garth Ennis, Robert Kirkman, Jay Faerber, and now it’s happening again with Jonathan Hickman. My initial experience with his creations was through the first issue of Transhuman that I pulled on a lark because the idea of a mockumentary comic sounded novel and the cover was interesting. Now I simply cannot get enough of this man’s work, and that’s unfortunate since most of it – including Transhuman as well as A Red Mass For Mars – has been heavily delayed.

Jonathan Hickman has completed one mini series so far, however, called The Nightly News. The original 6 issues first shipped between November of 2006 and July of 2007. Unfortunately, I was late to the party and didn’t find out about the book until I visited Hickman’s website, but I immediately put in an order for the trade paperback. It arrived this week.
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