Monday, June 6, 2011

War Picture Library 136 Last Ditch

Last Ditch just hits all the wrong buttons. It means well but just doesn't translate well once it's made the long hard transition from 1962 to 2011. Let's start with the bad guys - not only are they hopeless, stupid, arrogant and lousy shots they also happen to be foreigners with either limited or poor English language skills.
The four good guys have a better time of it. One is a hopeless drunk. You know he's on the highway to redemption - so that means he won't be walking off page 64 at the end. His nemesis is the conservative unimaginative captain who has every opportunity to change his way of thinking and finally does so. There's the young go getter, who realises that in order to make things happen he has to go against authority, as embodied by his captain. Finally there's the sergeant who is good at hitting his Japanese opponents with the heavy end of his rifle/Bren gun/hand.
In Last Ditch the British escape, not surprisingly, from the clutches of the Japanese through a series of lucky scrapes in an old river boat. The interior of the river boat takes on Tardis like proportions anytime the Englishman find themselves below deck.
Despite these flaws it does have some clever charm in the blinding conservatism of Captain Winchester. Even though it hinders him from accepting that the Japanese have the capability to wage war on equal footing with Commonwealth troops it also allows him to 'do what's best' for the drunk and throw all the booze overboard.
Also I find the cover mesmerising. Perhaps it's that early 60s paint palette? In particular have a look at the light shine on that helmet - just perfect!
So there you have it, War Picture Library 136 Last Ditch - plenty of flaws, predictable ending, outrageously racist with plentiful gratuitous action. Some would say almost the perfect pocket war comic!

Could you stop them?

The officers' mess looks like the place to be.

I bet you desert head has been waiting his entire military career to say that.

Even the good guys get blown up every now and again. Aaagh! indeed!!

What are the odds? The Japanese, despite outnumbering the British about 5 to 1 and having the element of total surprise, lose this one.

The Japanese Sam I Am buys one.

No let him stay...we could use a fit dripping wet native boy for something around here.

A Japanese anything with no bottom in it isn't going to be any good to anybody.

There's a lot of unusual things going on on page 34 of Last Ditch. First the head only drawing of Chindwin Charlie delivering his confession. Second not only is the Sergeant's arm casually draped outside the panel, his burly elbow reaches into the panel below.

I'd have more credibility if I didn't look like a nonce.

We're better off without that demon booze.

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