Monday, July 26, 2010

War Picture Library 45 The Price of Freedom

Heroic Italians? In a comic about World War 2? Well you better believe it!!

Except for a few stereotypical clunkers involving uncomplimentary attitudes towards spaghetti and narrative concerns over the “incessant chatter” of Italians and their inability to annunciate simple English phrases the Italians come out looking pretty good in The Price of Freedom.

Even though the focus of the story is on the adventures of Kiwi Captain Pug Meyburgh and English Sergeant Tom Decker from the retreat in North Africa to their capture, internment and escape and then their bid for freedom it is the host of heroic Italians that truly make the story strong. These include the well meaning Private Bruzzi, the private citizen Babbino, the silent but shrewd scout Truffi and brave Sergeant Ruffini (who was responsible for the capture of Meyburgh and Decker).

Furthermore the story is enhanced by a see-sawing tactical situation in the 2nd half of the book.

The artist for The Price of Freedom provides some exceptional ink work and appears to revel in the use of black. And not just for night settings or for dramatic punctuation. Copious amounts of blank ink are used throughout giving this War Picture Library comic a wonderful quality.

Also it is very well written with the story being revealed, with right amount of information being provided as the story progresses.

The Price of Freedom would lend itself very well to some back story creation. There's more to know about the characters. What made Decker drive through the desert picking up wounded men? What of the soldiers who gave up their places so the wounded could get aid? How did Truffi become silent and shrewd. And what was Ruffini doing all that time while Meyburgh and Decker were in prison?

Another smug Nazi officer. Where do they find so many of them?

I can't figure out if this is more Allo Allo or Blackadder.

Did he spend time in Brooklyn?

Why can't they all have stiff upper lips?

Great picture!

More ink. We need more ink.

There's lot going on in this one.

Cravat, tash, bandage and stiff upper lip! All man!!

Evil looking lot. Nice panel though.

Nice Aaagh! with a little Uh! thrown in for counterpoint.

No it's not.It's all about being gallant and sacrifice and being noble!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

War Picture Library 78 Aces High

This one is so bad it’s good. There’s a lot of story packed into these 64 pages and Aces High just manages to get away with it.

Four men, with outstanding reputations, are hand picked for a special mission to destroy an enemy underground installation. However despite their reputations each one of them has a flaw that could jeopardise the mission and their lives. Despite their personal problems each of the characters has a torturing envy of others who appear to have none.

First there is the pilot, Flight Lieutenant Julian Carpenter DFC, who despite being a superb pilot is also a manic depressive on the verge of a complete meltdown. Next there is the arrogant perfectionist navigator, Flying Officer Kenneth Detling, who is unforgiving to those who make mistakes. Then there is the bomb aimer, Pilot Officer “Cocky” Parker, who never misses his target and is a smug and tactless braggart as a result. Finally rear gunner, Flight Sergeant “Tail End” Charlie Morgan is a hot tempered ace marksman who is hiding the onset of his emerging double vision.

Having a basket case crew on a dangerous mission is one way to propel a story forward and using Flight Sergeant Morgan’s working class chip on his shoulder is one way to give it some welcome depth.

Aircraft wise we are treated to having a brief glance at a Whitely at the start of the story even though most of the action uses a Wellington bomber modified to carry extra fuel and one big bomb. Surprisingly the ME 109’s aren’t really drawn very well. Also in the panel where the Wellington is dropping the big one, you can almost hear the editor saying to the artist “No it’s a big bomb. Go back and draw it bigger!”

Not only are there lots of words in this story boys in the past must have had a wider vocabulary then their modern counterparts to call upon and this is evidenced by the use of words such as “consternation”, “meticulous “and “nemesis”.

So in the end the crew complete the mission and manage to overcome their own inner demons. Surprised?

A Whitely! Now there's a fine sight!

The split tash.You don't see many of those.

A mean tash for a mean man.

Could this be the 1st thought AAGH!?

How insulting is "pig dog"?
Also could that radio be in any worse position in that open top boat?

I would if I knew where the very top secret base is located.

What's that guy doing with rocket launcer?

Hammer time!

Also don't they teach you not to say those kind of things at bad guy school?

An AAAGH! and a Himmel!

Nice picture.

I like the use of the word home and that it is also cheaper for an overseas subscription.

Monday, July 5, 2010

War Picture Library 269 Ghost Platoon

This is a very tidy story about seeking redemption and accepting repentance with a touch of the supernatural thrown in to make things interesting.

As Eight Platoon prepares for their assault on Chateau de Ruhl on old Shepard greats the platoon with a premonition that there will only be one survivor from the ensuing battle. The local villagers dismiss the old boy as being crazy but Eight Platoon’s morale is shaken by his comments.

The platoon’s morale is already in trouble as their new officer, Second Lieutenant Mark Nichols, panicked in his first action during an artillery barrage and lost both his own confidence and the confidence of his men.

The platoon was only saved during the subsequent battle by the leadership of the veteran Sergeant Burke and a gutsy display by private “Rusty” Grant. The sergeant is ready to report Nichols’ cowardice to company command but he is persuaded by Grant to give Nichols a second chance.

Soon enough the platoon is ordered to occupy a chateau where they are promptly surrounded and cut-off by the enemy.

So when Nichols formulates a plan to save the platoon by volunteering to go through enemy lines to get help it is met with cynicism. What follows is a dangerous escapade as Nichols and “Rusty” Grant (a fluent German speaker) work their way through enemy lines.

The story ends as it starts with the old Shepard witnessing the eerie spectacle of ghostly British troops marching towards the front.

This is a nicely crafted story. Action sequences contribute to the narrative the whole way through and there’s no need for superfluous exploding trucks, trains, boats, buildings, bridges or tanks. A lot could have gone wrong with the introduction of the ghostly element but thankfully it is used well. There’s strong pathos to this story as even though the good guys are heroic it is not enough to enable their survival.

Fear. I'll show you fear if you can catch me!

Here's a man who loves his job! There's also one of those rare dead guys you find in wars - with blood!

A damn good aaagh!

An even better aaagh!

The classic short aaagh!

Where's the side order of fries?

A great looking panel.
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