Dreaming Eagles OHC
You might think that, after all the war stories he has written, Garth Ennis might actually be done with the genre, that he’s simply ran out of things to say. Wrong. Here, Ennis finds a very different take on World War Two and combines with a very smart story structure - a framing sequence set in the 60s with the civil rights protests kicking off and a WW2 veteran father fears for his son’s safety in it all. The final resolution to that dilemma is very satisfying both emotionally and intellectually.
Across six issues, the story of a black fighter squadron in various theatres of operation in World War 2 spins out, with all the domestic adversaries and hatred they stood contrasted against the Nazis they went to war against. As usual, Ennis pulls no punches, this is not a glamourised tale of derring-do, yet that doesn’t mean it isn’t heroic - for it certainly is. Ennis explains in an afterword that he rarely features actual people in his war stories, but in this one he simply couldn’t do it due to this fellow:
Davis is who leads and protects the squadron. He’s not the best pilot but he doesn’t have to be - its David who keeps an eye on everything going on, who heads off institutional enemies before they get too close, who eventually gets his pilots the P-51 Mustang that actually allows them to really take on the enemy. Some other real-life figues, supportive and less so, also feature.
Yet, for all the war story impresses, it is the final pages, where we find out what happened after being demobbed and the talk between father and son on the state of the US. It is particularly effective given the last three years since it was written. In this respect Ennis’ hopes for the US are overshadowed by the recent regressions.
Any artist who takes on a job with Ennis, on a war story, must know what they are in for. It won’t be an easy job but it’ll probably result in some of their best work ever. So it proves, take a look at this:
I wasn’t that happy with Aftershock issuing this an OHC - it looked like a cash grab, trading on Ennis’ name to pull it off. However, if bought for around £16 online, it’s a good value package and an excellent quality hardback that really allows Coleby’s art to shine.
EDIT: Couple more:
World of Tanks: Citadel
It’d be fair to say this is your more usual Ennis war story - moments of seriousness and horror, combined with gross-out humour, but for all that it is a bit formulaic, the formula works. This isn’t anywhere Dreaming Eagles but it’s entertaining enough.
Beasts of Burden: Animal Rites
My thanks to @sammm , whose enthusiasm for a new series suggested I ought to take a look at it. A quick look online showed a book that combined animals and horror with gorgeous, watercolour art so that was that. Pretty much had to bag it, I mean look at it:
I really enjoyed this, so it’s quite neat that there’s a couple of hardbacks due later in the year that continues this series.
Edit 2: A final trio:
Empowered & Sistah Spooky’s High School Hell
This starts off quite strong - the joke of an Infernal Service Provider being the new name for demons never gets old, but as it goes on it loses steam. The creators seem to be aware of this too, as towards the end the duo somehow get out of a death trap and it’s never revealed how. Similarly, after a while the various mental and emotional tortures based on US high school’s utterly fucked up society structures become hollow. It’s good, but Warren’s often far better than simply good.
The Damned: Volume 3
For the most part I don’t follow much of Cullen Bunn’s work, some of it works, some doesn’t but I don’t tend to seek it out. Pair him up with Brian Hurrt however and it all changes. These two work together brilliantly and become a collaborative pairing to rival the best in comics. This continues the gangster / horror fusion set in the 1930s, all of it depicted with Hurrt’s excellent art.
Witchfinder: Volume 5: The Gates of Heaven
That this had D’Israeli on the art was a very welcome surprise as he’s always excellent. The story itself is another great addition to the Mignolaverse.