War Stories
Vol. 1

Author: Garth Ennis
Artists: Various
Titan Books
RRP 13.99
ISBN 1 84023 912 3
Available 22 October 2004

From the Wehrmacht's retreat through Russia to the Allied advance on the Gothic Line, from the occupation of Germany to the burning seas surrounding Europe, the graphic adventures told in this collection will take you beyond history into the visceral experience of mankind's greatest conflict...

War Stories represents an interesting collection of tales all of which attempt to show a different side of the war. We go on patrol with a German crew and their Tiger tank; hear the Ballad of the D-Day Dodgers, who despite popular belief at the time, were fighting just as hard in Italy; take some much needed (if not authorised) R&R with the US 101st Airborne Division; and travel onboard the good ship Nightingale as she makes her run as one of the defenders of a supply convoy between Britain and Russia.

The first tale, Johann's Tiger, I originally thought was a little too far fetched. Could one small group of German's and their tank really out-gun, out-manoeuvre and out-think several different small armies? It seemed very suspect. That was until I read the afterword at the conclusion of this collection. It would appear that the Tiger Tank was indeed a formidable vehicle - one that was almost indestructible. I loved the way that we are made to feel for the German soldiers - they, like the Allied fighters, were only following their orders and doing what they believed was right.

D-Day Dodgers is a bit of a depressing tale, and follows the last hours of a group of men who are preparing for a battle in Italy which they know will probably be their last. The "D-Day Dodgers" refers to an alleged report that during the war Lady Astor stood up in Parliament and accused those fighting in Italy of being D-Day Dodgers - claiming they were sitting out the war in Italy while the real fighting was being done in France.

My favourite story, simply because it wasn't as bleak as the others, is the third one in this collection, Screaming Eagles. This sees a number of soldiers enjoying a little unexpected R&R at the expense of the Germans. They manage to find an old manor house which is full to bursting with art, fine food and wines. And, when they spot a group of beautiful women next door - ones that are only too grateful to welcome Allied troops - they look set to have the wildest time of the war. There is an amusing few panels with a naked soldier, an angry bull and a minefield... but I really think you should discover that for yourself.

The final story, Nightingale, takes to the high seas as we follow the crew of the Nightingale as they escort the supply ships between Britain and Russia. It's a tale of heroism and foolhardiness.

All four stories have their own charm, and all are wonderfully illustrated. This is certainly a collection that will make you think.

Ray Thompson

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