[Commando: D-Day Fight or Die! The 12 Best Commando D-Day Comic Books Ever!] – (George Low, Various)
“D-Day Fight or Die” is another great collection of Commando war stories featuring a D-Day theme. Just like the other books published by Carlton it features 12 black and white stories all reprinted at 25% larger than their original size. This collection includes:
- Ambush at Dawn
- The Strongpoint
- Normandy Drop
- Wrong Time, Wrong Place
- Big Joe
- Blood of Heroes
- D-Day Drop
- Operation Bulldog
- Wolf Pack
- Man of Iron
- Big Guy
- The Footsloggers
The book uses the familiar two frames per page style with a generous amount of text. Unlike many modern comic books, Commando give you plenty of story to read but both the writers and the artist remain anonymous which is a great shame as many of them deserve some recognition for their work. The stories follow the tried and tested Commando formula of an underdog (usually from the lower classes) fighting his way through seemingly insurmountable odds to eventually become the hero. The writers concentrate on personal interactions rather than an over glorified action movie style script which gives the tales great depth. The weapons and battlefields are historically accurate and all of them are nicely portrayed by the artists to give a great sense of setting.
Commando is not for everyone though, the stories are very heavily British biased and they are written in a style that apes the values and dialogues of the period. If you are a fan of British War comics you should really enjoy “D-Day Fight or Die!” but if not, or if you are German, then this book might not be for you.
There is one sour point in this collection and that is that Carlton included the story “Man of Iron” that was previously included in the “Commando: Dirty Dozen” collection. Of all the hundreds of stories they have to choose from it is inexcusable to double up after so few collected volumes (shame on you Carlton!).
“D-Day Fight or Die!” is another solid collection and worthy of any Commando collectors library. [ISBN-13: 978-1847322838.]. 8/10
[“Commando”: True Brit: The Toughest 12 “Commando” Books Ever] – (George Low)
This is the second collected “Commando” war comics edition in the glorious 25% bigger B/W format. Just like the first collection its sticks to the unusual two frames per page format and looks really good. It is a pity that the artists are not acknowledged anywhere as there is some real talent within these pages. The stories are a great read and often concentrate more on the conflicts between the characters than the battles themselves. The style of writing in this book is very British and I am not sure how it would be received outside of the UK. I really enjoyed this book and if you enjoyed the first book you will enjoy this one too. This one definitely has more of a special forces flavor. [ISBN-13: 978-1844421213]. 8/10
[Vertigo First Cut] – (Various)
The concept here is a book containing the first issue from seven series to whet your appetite. (DMZ) : Good Art and an intriguing story line. I might give this a try in the future especially if an omnibus edition gets published. (Army@Love) : Nice art work but I couldn’t get into the story. A little too farfetched even for me. (Jack of Fables) : Good artwork and the promise of an interesting story line. I might check this one out further. (The Exterminators): I really enjoyed this story and was impressed by the art and the writing. Definite buy. (Scalped): A very dark and gritty Native American based gangster tale. Not bad but pretty heavy going. (Crossing Midnight): A very intriguing story line and good art. I don’t really like books with kids as the heroes so I am unlikely to buy this one. (Loveless): A western tale that strangely left me cold. [ISBN-13: 978-1401217969]. 6/10.
[DC/Top Cow Crossovers] – (Various)
A collection of crossovers between the stars of DC and the stars of Top Cow.
#1: Darkness/ Batman was a must read for me as it filled in a few blanks the Darkness Omnibus I read recently. This is the first Batman I have read in about 20 years and I actually enjoyed it although it did feel to me as if they were throwing in characters just for the sake of it.
#2: Witchblade/JLA. Not a bad story but a little confusing and techy at the start. I am not a big fan of JLA and think the whole thing is a little pointless. A bit like using a 20,000 pound hydraulic press to crack a walnut.
#3: Darkness/ Superman. I really enjoyed this story of Ecstacado trying to become the mob lord of Metropolis. I am not a big superman fan but this was definitely one of the better crossovers. The pacing was good and it filled in some more blanks for me in the Darkness story. Art was pretty good too.
#4: JLA/ Cyberforce. I am not familiar with Cyberforce at all but found this story to be enjoyable if a little formulaic. Why is it in every story featuring superman they have to make him vulnerable in some way regardless of who his adversary is? Artwork was pretty good in this tale too. [ISBN 978-1401213381]. 6/10.
[Darkness Compendium, Volume 1 Hard Cover] – (Various)
This is a hefty monster of a book (1280 pages) that is almost too heavy to read comfortably in bed. The artwork is vibrant and although I don’t normally read this type of mainstream graphic novel I was intrigued enough by the Garth Ennis connection to give it a go. There are times when the story arcs can be a little bit confusing (story probably running in parallel with Witchblade) but it is generally an easy read. Some of the double page spreads can be physically hard to read especially if you are like me and don’t want to damage the books spine. I didn’t enjoy the “Tales of the Darkness” stories as much but the preview of volume 2 was right back on form. [ISBN-13: 978-1582408019]. 8/10
[“Commando”: The Dirty Dozen – The Best 12 “Commando” Books of All Time] – (George Low)
The memories came flooding back of childhood war comics and although the style of writing is pretty dated they are still a fun read in 2010. Reading 12 commando stories in close succession makes you realize how they employed a particular formula for many of the books. It is funny how in the books they portray an overwhelming ambition of the hero to get to the front to fight for king and country. The gritty realism of movies like saving Private Ryan were not around when these books were popular. The books are written to quite a rigid moral code which really does date them but in a good way. A lot of the books have a common theme where the hero has a wrong impression of another class, army unit, country or colleague and by the end of the book all the issues have been resolved. The artwork is excellent and the books are actually quite educational. A great read. [ISBN-13: 978-1844423071]. 7/10