Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Air Ace Picture Library 188 - Secret Mission

Mosquitoes should always make for a good story. I guess it has to do with the expectation that the flying action will be up close and personal. Even though the story centres on the older and experienced Commanding Officer, Wing Commander Brewster, the story really belongs to the younger and inexperienced guy who doesn't make it – Flight Officer Garry Merrion.

This is a great story; it combines recklessness, redemption and regret. Also Brewster and Merrion are not carbon copy opposites of each others characters. However there are holes in this story big enough to fly a Lancaster bomber through. And it’s exactly this kind of chaotic story telling that I find enthralling.

First the great part…Garry Merrion is reckless (heard that used before?) and he screws up. The good point of the story is that he doesn't learn from his mistakes and continues to be reckless. I suppose a fighter pilot would need to be self assured and a more than reasonable level of audacity.

Due to Merrion’s stupidity Brewster is forced into a hazardous situation taking Merrion’s place on a mission. Brewster gets shot down, escapes capture and returns home to a hero’s welcome. During Brewster’s adventures Merrion is quietly reassigned to another squadron.

In the end Merrion redeems himself with some old fashioned self sacrifice – but not in the standard two dimensional “the bombers will get through” or even “at least he put on a good show and died like a man”

Merrion stays true to character and remains careless. He isn't driven by any revelations as he comes to the rescue of the Brewster. But he doesn't anticipate that the price of his bravado will be a lonely death in the sea. Brewster regrets Merrion’s end.

Now the holes…If the CO was such a stickler for following orders – why does he take on an additional target? Why didn't he target the U-boat pens? And why is one anti aircraft gun so much trouble when only moments before the squadron was determined to fly through a veritable flak valley of death to get to the target? Also why doesn't the rest of the Mosquito flight escort Merrion back across the Channel?

Merrion’s flawed character and tragic ending really make this story.

Boy is he mad. He you can almost smell the moustache wax melting.

Nice Me109. Even nicer AAAGH!

Brewster delivering some manly instructions to the chaps.

A lonely end for Garry Merrion.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Battle Picture Library 302 - Victory in Defeat

A series of raids on Tripoli go wrong – the situation is confused but the British are the first to take advantage of the confusion.

As events unfold the story of the the Maxwell brothers is told. One of the brothers is rash and leads a daring but ill fated commando raid. The other is steady and methodical and leads an equally daring raid with a team of convicted criminals. 

Even though the raids fail the British mange to win the battle.

The Westchesters make a reappearance! (from now on I’ll keep an eye out for them) and continue their tradition of doggedness.

There are a lot of characters who contribute to the story but it appears having good square jaw is the only prerequisite to be selected for any of the missions.  Perhaps it's the weight of all those angular jaw lines but the artwork is not as animated as in other pocket war library.

Not an absolute clanger. Even though the story was a bit weak it still manages to maintain a good tempo.

A bit of time out for some hairy chested good fun.

Even the bad guys have square jaws.

What a double spread! One Aagh! One Argh! And one Aiee! (Isn't that a Japanese word?)

Now that's a square jaw!
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