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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A comic strip - but not much to laugh at, 22 Dec. 2011
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This review is from: Charleys War (Vol. 8): Hitlers Youth (Hardcover)
"Charley's War" is widely regarded as one of the best British comic strips of the twentieth century. It tells the story of a young soldier in the trenches during World War One, but it's about as far removed as you can get from the gung-ho "Commando" comics we all read in our youth. For one thing, it depicts the Germans as real people, not cyphers whose only dialogue is "Donner und Blitzen!" or "AAAARGH!" as they get shot. It also shows that there were cruel, sadistic officers on both sides - check out the Field Punishment in this volume.

This is the eighth book in the series and is slightly different in that the first half focuses not on Charley but on a certain German corporal, one Adolf Hitler. It shows how often he came very close to being killed (an event which would of course have changed the course of history) and if these events are true - and with the quality of writer Pat Mills' research I don't doubt that they are firmly based on truth - then it lends weight to the theory that somebody down there was looking after him.

Charley does feature in the second half of the book, and we also meet his brother Wilf again. Wilf is in the Royal Flying Corps and we see how dangerous their daily lives were too. Forget the glamour of cruising around the skies in a wooden biplane - the days are long gone when pilots on opposing sides would wave to each other when they met in the air.

As usual, Mills has supplied notes at the end covering the background to the stories, both placing them in the real-life historical context and showing how the original editors interfered with his work, for example by adding captions to scenes that were self-explanatory. These are my only gripe with the book - the notes are headed up by episode number but there are no corresponding numbers on the strips themselves, making it necessary to count forward from the beginning to find the strip to which a particular note refers. But that's a minor problem.

If you've already been following Charley's adventures then you won't be disappointed with this book. If however you haven't come across him before, then I'd recommend that you start with the first volume, which shows how he originally joined up (lying about his age as so many eager young men did back then). Chances are you'll be hooked and before long you'll have ordered the other books in the series and will have caught up with the rest of us!
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Location: Edinburgh, Scotland

Top Reviewer Ranking: 56,685