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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Telling war like it is, 7 Jan 2010
This review is from: The Complete Battlefields, Vol. 1 (Hardcover)
Combine the talent of foremost graphic novelist Garth Ennis with top artists such as Russ Braun, Peter Snejbjerg & Carlos Ezquerra, and what you have here is a real gem of the graphic war novel genre. Building on the success of his earlier 'War Stories' series, these are slightly longer and more detailed sagas. As usual with Garth Ennis, his stories concern the ordinary men and women of both sides and the sometimes disturbing effects which war can have on them. From the hard-bitten German & Russian protagonists on the merciless Eastern Front, to a nurse in the Far East, whose vocation becomes distorted by her hatred for an enemy she has come to revile, to the detriment of her own sanity. These are definitely war stories for grownups, intertwining authenticity, pathos, humanity and rough humor amongst the all too evident carnage of a world gone mad. I can't recommend it too highly.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A superb collection of war stories, 18 Mar 2014
Gareth Simon (London, England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Complete Battlefields, Vol. 1 (Hardcover)
This volume collects the first three of Dynamite Comics’ Battlefields mini-series by Garth Ennis. These are superb and often unusual stories, showing the real horrors of war that our parents and grandparents endured.

Battlefields: Night Witches: 1 (Battlefields (Dynamite))
This is a ‘typical’ Garth Ennis story, with lots of graphic violence and language, which doesn’t actually seen out of place on the Eastern Front of the Second World War, where the story is set. It is inspired by the true story of a squadron of Russian female night-bomber pilots – the Night Witches - which is offset by the story of a squad of German infantry who happen to be the regular targets of these bombers. As usual with most of Garth Ennis’s stories, the artwork is excellent – I don’t know how he keeps finding artists who always remind me of Steve Dillon - who seems to be his archetypical collaborator – even when their styles may be vastly different, they seem to find their way to a similar narrative style; maybe Mr Ennis is a very good at describing in minute detail what he wants to see… and what he describes are ‘ordinary’ people caught up in events much bigger than themselves, over which they have little control.

Battlefields: Dear Billy (Battlefields (Dynamite))
This story is set in the Far Eastern Theatre and follows the life of a nurse who was raped, shot and left for dead by the Japanese, the only survivor of a boatload of refugees who escaped from the Fall of Singapore. She meets an RAF pilot in the hospital in India, and a relationship develops, but she is unable to talk to anyone about her experiences, because of the social stigma that would ensue. The hidden pressures affect her treatment of Japanese prisoners… The pilot provides the requisite action scenes as he and his comrades slowly repay the Japanese for their atrocities. The end of the war and the proposed rehabilitation and reconstruction of Japan bring her feelings and the story to a climax.

Battlefields: Tankies (Battlefields (Dynamite))
This story is set in the days after the establishment of the Allied beachhead in June 1944, as the British forces grind their way forward on the Eastern flank of the Allied line, drawing the German forces into a battle of attrition to give the Americans on the Western flank a weakened front to break out of. We follow a single crew in a Churchill tank as they slowly work their way over the battlefield, having lost their commander and are now under the temporary command of a Corporal. The individual German tanks are superior to their British opponents, and ruthlessly take advantage of this in the confined spaces of the ‘bocage’ countryside. The British have superior artillery and air support, but in the close confines of the woods and fields, it is of little help to the outgunned ‘tankies’. This book really shows the graphic horrors of that campaign, which you cannot visualise just through reading the memoirs and histories of the period.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Life and Death in the Maelstrom, 9 Aug 2012
Noel - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Complete Battlefields, Vol. 1 (Hardcover)
Following the success of "War Stories Volumes 1 & 2", Garth Ennis returns to writing WW2 stories with this collection of three books: "The Night Witches", "Dear Billy", and "The Tankies".

"Night Witches" is about a female squadron of Russian bomber pilots who have to contend with inferior planes to complete their nightmarish missions against the Nazis as well as condescending attitudes from the male pilots who see them as a joke. This first story sets the tone for the rest of the book. The violence is extremely graphic with desperate young men thrust into do-or-die scenarios where they must do gruesome things to survive. This violence changes and warps them so that they no longer behave like humans such as the violent rape by a battalion of Nazis of one of the female pilots who is then executed and left with the one soldier who refused to take part. The ending is surprising as is most of the story and leaves a bitter taste in the mouth.

"Dear Billy" is probably one of the best things Ennis has ever written. It tells the story of a British nurse in the Pacific Theatre of War who is raped along with the other women in her group by Japanese soldiers and sent out into the sea to be executed by machine gun. She somehow survives, is taken to a hospital in India, and, after recovering, becoming a nurse in the hospital, helping Allied soldiers recover. But when Japanese POWs start showing up, she cannot let her past go and begins a silent campaign of retribution against them.

The story examines the psychology of warfare on civilians and how a brutal act can become defining of a person's view of an entire race. For Carrie, her vendetta against the Japanese can never end because of what they did for her, so when the war does end? Then there is a final decision that must be made.

I feel that if Ennis had written this story as prose that he would win literary prizes left and right. That he chose his medium of comics should make the story no less praised, but of course it will be because of peoples' attitudes to comics in general. It's an amazing story nonetheless and the best in the collection.

The book closes with "Tankies", about the days following D-Day when the Allies were desperate to make in-roads into France in order to secure their position, except the British tanks were inferior to the Germans making their incursions more dangerous and slower. The story follows one tank as it gets left behind its battalion and makes its way through enemy lines. The side story of a unlikely hero leading a half dozen men against a wave of German soldiers was particularly brilliant, based as it was on a real story.

Ennis writes an extensive afterword to the book going into the historical detail of each of the stories. It shows a man who cares deeply about the subject matter and wants to give honour to the fallen in the stories who all had real-life counterparts. There's also a bibliography provided for those who want to read more on the subjects in the stories.

If you enjoyed the remarkable "War Stories" series Ennis did a few years ago, you'll enjoy "Battlefields" as well. Dark and gritty, clever, emotional, tragic, and real, the book shows a writer at the top of his game working with tremendous artists to tell gut-wrenching stories - this is comics as Art, and for those who like reading WW2 history but not comics, this is one for them. For fans of Ennis, this is a must-read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Commando Books with big words., 26 May 2010
P. Brooks "Peter Brooks" (Manchester, England.) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Complete Battlefields, Vol. 1 (Hardcover)
It's a bit of a flippant title for a review "Commando Books with big Words" but along with Mr Ennis earlier homage "War Stories" to the Commando Books that chaps of a certain age read in their youth, these stories are well written, researched and illustrated.
Had these stories been related in a purely 'written' form some high brow in the TLS would be gushing about the power of the narrative etc. as it's a "Graphic Novel" that isn't going to happen. Be assured that I'd measure these works against Nicholas Monserrat's "The Cruel Sea" and Willi Heinrich's "The Willing Flesh" and found them as powerful and as in the case of "Dear Billy" just as moving.
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The Complete Battlefields, Vol. 1
The Complete Battlefields, Vol. 1 by Garth Ennis (Hardcover - 3 Nov 2009)
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