One Mad Dog


[Darkie’s Mob: The Secret War of Joe Darkie – HC] – (John Wagner, Mike Western)
June 3, 2011, 6:42 am
Filed under: 9 stars, John Wagner, Mike Western

This hardcover volume collects the entire series of Darkie’s Mob WW2 strips from the British boys war comic BATTLE.  It is the story of a group of British soldiers fighting a campaign of guerilla warfare against the Japanese in Burma under the command a renegade Captain Joe Darkie.  As this strip first appeared in the 1970’s it isn’t very politically correct in terms of language but at the same time it is entirely appropriate for the time. Garth Ennis does a great job of discussing the language used in Darkie’s Mob in his lengthy introduction.

The book is hard hitting physiological war story that really works well as a collected volume. It keeps the reader guessing about the true nature of Joe Darkie right up until the last story.  The Secret War doesn’t try to glamorize or soften this particularly gruesome period of World War 2 and it is inevitable that it will offend some readers.  John Wagner is better known for co creating Judge Dredd but this is some of his best writing and should be a welcome addition to any British Comic fans library.

Mike Western’s black and white art is lovingly reproduced in this collection and probably looks better now than when it was drawn back in the 70’s. Mike does a really good job of capturing both action and emotion in the characters and I really enjoyed the art.

Darkies Mob is a well written, engaging story with first rate comic art and  great presentation. It has one of the best introductions Garth Ennis has written and some nice extras too. A must buy for fans of war comics like “Charlie’s War” and dare I say 2000AD’s “BAD COMPANY” that surely must have been influenced by this. ISBN-13: 978-1848564428. 9/10

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[The Best Of Battle] – (Various)

I never read “Battle” when I was a kid and read their rival “Warlord” instead. It looks like I  really missed out on some great stories and this book provides a taste of what I missed.  I enjoyed all the stories in this book and they capture the cream of British war comics admirably. The Black and white artwork is excellent throughout and even the B/W  printed versions of the color strips look good.  The only strip that I had read before was pat Mill’s excellent “Charley’s War”.

My only real criticism is that because they included so many different stories it meant that all you got was a short taster of each.  It was annoying for instance that theyonly included 3 out of 6 episodes of “Hold Hill 109”.  I hope they will produce some “Complete” versions in the future.

Included in this collection:

  • “D-Day Dawson” written by Gerry Finley Day and Ron Carpenter with art by Colin page.
  • “Day of The Eagle” written by Eric Hebden with art by Pat Wright.
  • “The Bootneck Boy” written by Gerry Finley Day and Ian MacDonald with art by Giralt.
  • “Rat Pack” written written by Gerry Finley Day with art by Carlos Ezquerra.
  • “Major Easy” written by Alan Hebden with art by Carlos Ezquerra.
  • “Fighter From the Sky” written by Gerry Finley Day with art by Geoff Campion.
  • “Hold Hill 109″  written by Steve MacManus” with art by Jim Watson.
  • “Darkies Mob”  written by John Wagner with art by Mike Western.
  • “Panzer G-Man” written by Gerry Finley Day with art by Geoff Campion.
  • “Johnny Red” written by Tom Tully with art by Joe Colquhoun.
  • “Joe Two Beans” written by John Wagner and art by Eric Bradbury.
  • “The Sarge” written by Gerry Finley Day with art by Mike Western
  • “The Early Adventures of Hellman of Hammer Force”  written by Gerry Finley Day with art by Mike Western.
  • “Crazy Keller” written by Alan Hebden with art by Eric Bradbury.
  • The General Dies At Dawn” written by Gerry Finley Day with art by John Cooper.
  • “Charley’s war” written by Pat Mills with art by Joe Colquhoun.
  • “Fighting Mann” written by Alan Hebden with art by Cam Kennedy.
  • “Death Squad” written by Mark Andrew with art by Eric Bradbury.

This book is highly recommended as an introduction to the golden era of British war comics. [ISBN-13: 978-1848560253]. 9/10