Preview: ‘Battle Of Britain Special’ Brings Back A Classic Title With All-New Comics And More
by Richard Bruton
Another classic name in Brit comics comes back to print this month, with the return of Battle! You can get 100 pages of all-new and a few classics from Rebellion and the Treasury of British Comics on 16 September, featuring work from Garth Ennis, Rob Williams, PJ Holden, Keith Page, and so many, many more!
(Regular cover by Nelson Dániel)
Battle Picture Weekly was one of the most ground-breaking of a whole raft of British war comics, with John Wagner and Pat Mills at the helm at the start in March 1975. And the addition of the likes of Alan Hebdon, Gerry Finley-Day, Tom Tully, Mike Western, Joe Colquhoun, Geoff Campion, John Cooper, and Carlos Ezquerra meant that Battle Picture Weekly really took off – a series of wonderfully hard-hitting strips such as Rat Pack, Major Eazy, Darkie’s Mob, Johnny Red, El Mestizo, and the classic Charley’s War truly marking the comic out as something different, a more realistic look at warfare, created by some of the best names of the time.
It’s now more than 30 years since Battle left the shelves in 1988. But even more importantly than that, it’s 80 years since the Battle of Britain, hence the title for this new Rebellion & Treasury of British Comics special. For four months in 1940, the Luftwaffe’s bombing campaign was a prelude to invasion – all that stood between Hitler and the conquest of the UK were the few, those men and women of Fighter Command and the Royal Air Force whose bravery and sacrifice turned the tide of the war.
Inside the Battle of Britain Special, you’ll find a real celebration of the strips and the style that made Battle such a major piece of Brit comics history.
Leading off, both in terms of first in the Special and in terms of the big name for the comic is The Tough Way Out, a Rat Pack tale by Garth Ennis and Keith Burns, who previously worked together on the revival of Johnny Red for Titan Books.
THE RAT PACK – THE TOUGH WAY OUT – Garth Ennis, Keith Burns, colours by Jason Wordie, letters by Rob Steen
But through the 100 pages of the Battle of Britain Special, you’ll find plenty to enjoy, a great mix of strips featuring old characters from the pages of Battle and a load of all-new characters and strips.
Editor Keith Richardson has said that he wanted something that resonated with the original Battle but with some strips where the storytelling would be a little more complex than some of the stories in the original. That’s why we see things like the Alex Di Campi and Glenn Fabry strip set in the Vietnam War alongside the likes of the Alan Hebden written El Mestizo, mixing up the original Battle work redone for now and originals from now with a slightly different tone.
And it definitely works, with a rich mix of tales, some dark, some light, all-out action alongside more reflective pieces.
But one very special strip in the Battle Special is Warchild by Dan Abnett and Jimmy Broxton, focusing on the ongoing problems with child soldiers around the world and was produced in association with the Warchild charity. Abnett and Broxton tell a horrifying tale of abuse that shouldn’t be happening in what we consider to be a civilised world.
WARCHILD – Dan Abnett, Jimmy Broxton, letters by Annie Parkhouse
The book comes out on Wednesday 16th September – get it from your local comic shop or the 2000 AD web shop – where you’ll find that Keith Burns exclusive cover.
Now – a preview of more of the great strips to be found in the Battle of Britain Special – all action, all the way through!
LOFTY AND THE EAGLE – Peter Briggs, Eoin Marron, colours by Jason Wordie, letters by Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou
THE FACE OF THE ENEMY – Alan Grant, Davide Fabbri, colours by Domenico Nezeti, letters by Oz
DESTROYER – Rob Williams, PJ Holden, letters by Simon Bowland
SNIPER ELITE: THE VULTURE – Karl Stock, Simon Coleby, colours by Len O’Grady, letters by Jim Campbell
BRAVO, BLACK LION – Alex De Campi, Glenn Fabry, colours by Karen Holloway, letters by Jim Campbell
THE SCOURGE OF THE SKIES – Karl Stock, Patrick Goddard, colours by Jon Charles, letters by Oz
EL MESTIZO – Alan Hebden, Brent McKee, colours by Gary Caldwell, letters by Hassan Otsame-Elhaou
You even get the chance for a little comedy in the Battle Special, with Lew Stringer supplying the laughs on the inside front cover with the 4-panel fun of Specky Hector, the comics collector and Keith Richardson and Tom Paterson on Cockney Commandos…
And then there’s the ridiculous side of things. You want a bear working for the Germans who have a particular hatred of the SS? That would be Gustav of the Bear Macht. Described as ‘Cross of Iron‘ meets ‘Gentle Ben‘ by writer Kek-W, it’s one of those ridiculous things that works so well to alleviate some of the seriousness of the strips around it – breaking things up and giving a great feel of variety and quality to the Special. And if you want to know about the bear – buy the Special!
GUSTAV OF THE BEARMACHT – Kek-W, Staz Johnson, colours by Barbara Nosenzo, letters by Simon Bowland