Tuesday, September 21, 2010

War Picture Library 490 Strange Allies

Now here's a principle to carry with you for the rest of your life - don't trust anyone who is half Italian and half Yugoslav.

It's 1945 in northern Italy. The British and Germans are unable to get the better of each other in the mountainous terrain. Both rely on using local partisans for information. But can these locals be trusted? A series of deadly coincidences makes each side suspect that they are being played by a double agent.

It's established pretty early in the story that the Germans are not really a bad bunch of guys. They know they can't win the war but they know they could win better surrender terms.

The Germans and British commanding generals from both sides seriously wounded at around the same time and are in dire need of medical attention. The only medical specialist surgeon left in Nazi Germany capable of saving the German general is kidnapped by the partisans before he can reach the general. The partisans intend on using the seriously injured and much loved general to get what they really want - a Nazi convoy of stolen art treasures. The partisans really aren't freedom fighters at all - they're bandits!!

All seems to be going well for the thieving locals and their get rich quick scheme. But things get complicated when Germany surrenders and the Germans gladly turn themselves over to their former antagonists.  However the subsequent actions of the partisans are their undoing. The Germans and British come together to rescue their respected and loved wounded leaders from their former informants and now treacherous enemy. Proving that people of mixed and dubious heritage who rely on subterfuge and treachery are unable to stand up in a fair fight.

Surprisingly, perhaps because this is a later published war picture library, there are a number of dead guys lying around. The Germans have a sense of morality about them and the British are less concerned about beating the Hun but are instead are more focused on "getting the job done".

The artist for this story doesn't appear to have a lot of time for detail. All the action is in the foreground and anything beyond that is either blank or a few quick lines. This really works well. Everything you need to visually know about the story is up front. Allowing a relatively detailed story to be nicely supported by the artwork.

...and if our first born is a male child we shall call him Chudley.

Fowler cops an AAAAH! in the back seat.

This German general needs a haircut.

Double anguish for the bad guys, an AAAAAH! and an AAAAAAAARGH!  Also isn't a bit late in the war for a P-40 to be swanning around northern Italy?

Dresoner reminds me a bit of  Christoph Waltz or should that be Landa? Also his assertion sounds pretty right.

No American artist could ever depict a British officer sending a delivery to off stump like this.

It's more fun when you put your hands up in the air. Seeeee I mean Aieeeeee!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

War Picture Library 280 The Last Stand

What an ending! Finally a last page with an open and worthy ending.

Take one sleepy tropical island, a mysterious beachcomber, an unbending police chief, a bunch of happy natives and a number of harsh Japanese racial stereotypes and believe it or not you have the ingredients for a good story.

Fraser (the beachcomber) is the kind of guy who likes to get around with his shirt off and keep fit by swimming out to reefs and hiking through swamps. He makes friends with the natives and picks fights with plantation owners at the Hibiscus Bar.

There is an air of mystery about him and in a triumph of story telling his past is not fully revealed nor is it the reason (or justification) for his actions. This is a sophisticated bit of writing.

When war comes to the island Fraser pulls together a desperate defence using the natives, the police and a handful of Aussie stragglers. This adhoc force manages to fiercely and comprehensively destroy an unsuspecting Japanese landing force.

The Japanese realise they now have to fight for the island and set about it in the appropriate manner by using bombers to soften up the island's defenders in preparation for a full assault landing.

A British destroyer arrives with orders to evacuate all the white men from the island. Fraser argues in vain with the destroyer captain to evacuate the islanders as well - but the orders are "whites only". He then turns to the islanders to have their women and children evacuated - but the islanders flatly refuse him. The island is their home and they will stay and defend it, no matter what the odds or consequences.

The final panel of The Last Stand shows Fraser and the islanders waiting the onslaught of a fresh Japanese invasion.

 Why are there no women in the Hibiscus Club?

It's one thing for a character to be racist - but the narrator as well?

What's with the hat? Also what's the purpose of that control panel?

Nice panel. The guys getting slowly sucked to the bottom of the swamp look uncomfortable.

That's a bit harsh.

Yeah Aussie! We didn't start the fire...

Look at those shoulders!

This panel really makes the story.

Quick! Back to the Hibiscus Club!!

That got him! Good perspective.

What a final panel!
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