Preview: ‘The Sarge’ Is Another Masterwork Of Brit Comics History Collected

by Richard Bruton

The first volume of a classic strip from Battle by Gerry Finley-Day and Mike Western – join the WWII action as The Sarge leads his men into battle!

In The Sarge, a British infantry section fight the Germans through WWII, with their survival thanks to the skills and instincts of their leader in battle, Sergeant Jim Masters. Whether it’s the retreat at Dunkirk, the heat of North Africa, or the conflict in Sicily, the Sarge leads from the front, usually with a pipe in his mouth, overcoming all thrown at him.

It’s one of the classics from Battle, although not one to go to if you’re necessarily after historical accuracy or a detached view of warfare. No, this one has The Sarge and his brave but motley Tommys as the heroes of the piece, valiantly fighting against the terrible Jerrys.

But saying that, it’s another one of those strips that didn’t simply have the Germans as the bad guys. There’s plenty of scope for a bit of struggle with incompetent commanding officers, arrogant and overconfident Americans. There’s even one extended adventure when Sarge has to go after one of his own men, a ruthless psychotic killer with a penchant for collecting trophies from his kills.

So yes, it might be simplistic in outlook at times and full of formulaic storylines when it’s always the Sarge who saves the day – but that can’t hide the absolute boys-own adventure thrill this one has.

And so much of that enjoyment comes from the art of Mike Western, another great of Brit comics. His work here just has that solidity and function, a masterful inking line, great layouts that pack so much action and invention onto every page, and just a marvellous way of showing the characters in every figure’s face. Whether it’s the strong black and white work or those gorgeous 2-page colour spreads, Western’s work is just breathtaking.

Here’s the Treasury PR for this one…

“Sergeant Jim Masters, a veteran of WW1, has to lead young, inexperienced British soldiers through some of the bloodiest encounters of WW2. From Dunkirk through North Africa and onto Sicily, the Sarge skilfully moulds his men into a battle-hardened unit, ready to take on the might of the German Army on any battlefield! But the enemy is only half the problem for Masters – from useless officers, hostile allies and psychotic killers, the Sarge’s biggest problems are often much closer to home!”

The Sarge Volume 1.

Written by Gerry Finley-Day, art by Mike Western.

Additional art – Jim Watson (Pages 18-25, originally published in Battle 23, 30 July 1977), Mike Dorey (inks, pages 133-135, originally published in Battle 11 March 1978)

Originally published in Battle from 25th June 1977 to 18th March 1978.

Collection published by Rebellion & The Treasury of British Comics on 12th May 2022.

Okay then, time for a preview and the first two adventures for The Sarge!

And to finish – four great Mike Western Sarge covers…

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