During the 1970s and 80s, there was a British comic called Battle Picture Weekly that showcased stories of Britain’s heroics during the first and second World Wars. Through mergers, the comic ultimately came to be titled just Battle and was very popular for a generation of boys, including a young Garth Ennis.
Titan Books have been reprinting some of the favorite stories in trade paperback and hardcover, and the latest collection is the recently released Garth Ennis Presents Battle Classics. In the 255 black-and-white pages, Ennis introduces some of the comic’s best stories.
Most of the book is consumed by HMS Nightshade, a story introduced each episode by a grandfather explaining his naval service to his grandson. It’s full of excitement and very enjoyable, and John Wagner’s story and Mike Western’s art takes up nearly 200 pages of the book.
The General Dies at Dawn follows. Here, a German general sits in his cell, awaiting a firing squad. Each issue represents an hour of the general’s life as he awaits his fate at dawn. During that time, he recounts his life, detailing why he’s been found guilty of treason and disobedience against the Third Reich. Alan Hebden and John Cooper collaborate on this classic. A trio of short stories round out the book with Cam Kennedy: Clash by Night, Hot Wheels, and Private Loser.
Ennis provides an introduction to the book, as well as detailed thoughts to usher in each story. He talks about the influence that Battle had on him and his eventual work, and if you’ve read Ennis’s Battlefields, the similarities are very evident.
All told, Garth Ennis Presents Battle Classics is pretty enjoyable. Unlike some comics that have been reprinted from earlier generations, these Battle stories still feel modern and relevant. The quality of printing and binding is outstanding, the selected episodes are action-packed and it’s incredibly easy to become completely immersed in their outcomes.
Disclosure: GeekDad was sent a sample of this book.