War Stories #1 (Avatar Press, 2014)

war-stories-1cvrSTORY : Garth Ennis

ART : Matt Martin (art) and Digikore Studios (colours)

This book was an unexpectedly nice read.

That’s not a statement I think people are used to hearing about (a) a Garth Ennis comics, (b) war comics in general or (c) Avatar’s publications which tend to be on the more horror and brutal side.


This comic simply reminded me very much of the old Commando comics that used to tell stories from the World Wars, so pardon a touch of nostalgia. Even the artwork has a realistic, yet fairly simple bent that adds to the feeling and barring some weak panels in the urban areas at the start and such, Martin does a decent job of it – his too few and far-between shots of aerial combat however, those are the best pages of the comic art-wise.

This debut starts a 3-part story arc called “Castles in the sky” which focuses on an American pilot named Leonard Wermore who is posted to an airbase and to the crew of the legendary B-17’s a.k.a, Flying Fortresses. There is no insane action or melodrama, everything moves at a slow deliberate pace that actually serves well to underscore the way it really is in war-time where there is an uneasy calm that runs constantly – right up until the moment the calm is broken by the storm everyone is dreading. Sitting in a canteen and watching the bombers return, wondering how many made it back. Being the survivor of a wreck and fearing you are the only survivor. The toll a war can take on families in a war-zone.

I have to admit, for a comic that does not on the surface have a whole lot happening, it touches a lot of beats and ideas just gently enough to bring them into play and by the end of this first issue I was invested in seeing what comes next.

The comic sees to focus less on the “war!” part of the war and more on the humanity and toll taken on the same by all that the characters have to endure. He gets a reputation for other things but make no mistake, Ennis is a star at solid characterisation and creating people that we genuinely can embrace – love them or hate them – and in this comic it works beautifully.


If you like a good war story, comic or otherwise, this series is off to a stellar start and you should give it a look.



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