This second collection of sixties war comics from the Fleetway stable is if anything even better than it's predecessor. While "Unleash Hell" devoted itself to 12 of the best War Picture Library stories, "Death or Glory" is sourced from Battle Picture Library, again these stories are similarly selected with exquisite good taste by editor Steve Holland, but importantly Battle Picture Library was launched some three years after the debut of War and the stories show a consequent maturity and depth of characterisation, which was becoming increasingly important as straight forward tales of derring-do made way for an altogether more psychological take on men in extremis.
As a result the stories here are if anything even more vivid, as the heroic and phlegmatic archetypes of the earlier war comics are replaced by men with often deeply flawed personalities. There are sterling examples of such tales contained within the pages of this impressive compendium, the disintegration of Colonel Jesse Stark literally reprising his worst nightmare as he leads a group of paratroopers on a seemingly doomed mission behind enemy lines in "Crack Up" (beautifully delineated by U.S. artist John Severin already familiar to readers of E.C.'s "Two Fisted Tales" and "Frontline Combat") or the memorable courtroom deposition of the events leading up to the murder of a British Officer on active service in the equally memorable "Seize and Hold" are both classic tales that engage the reader from the get-go, but even these pale in comparison to the phenonenal "Blaze of Glory" a story where the strong become weak, the weak become strong and two men's friendship is similarly rudely juxtaposed as situations beyond their control create one of the most memorable war stories ever committed to the pages of a comic, the denoument of this story is simply unforgettable and the last panel will sear it's way into your subconscious, it is perhaps one of the greatest ever panels from any kind of comic, let alone the relatively humble war comic.
So a book well worthy of it's five stars.
Usual beefs about the quality of reproduction still stand, i.e. could be a lot better, but then the original interior artwork is long gone and we are talking here about scanning from the comics themselves. Which means everything rests on the quality of the scans often trying to compensate for deficencies in the printing of these stories. Some are better than others, Renzo Calegari's beautiful artwork for "The Rats of Tobruk" comes off particularly badly but other stories fare better. Re-touching is conspicuous by it's abscence even when the stories would have benefitted from at least the removal of printing flaws created by the paper warp on the comics which were used as the source of these reprints.
So definitely could do better in the repro department and the covers to these stories could be more adequately represented, and some credits wouldn't go amiss either. But really these are relatively minor (ish) caveats. The book is superb and anyone with the remotest desire to recapture their childhood via the pages of these books will not be disappointed.
Can't wait to see more of these!