by Garth Ennis (writer), Carlos Ezquerra (pencils), Hector Ezquerra (ink), Tony Avina (colors), and Simon Bowland (letters)
Story: The last of Garth Ennis’ Battlefields stories begins, following a British tank-crew as the Allies push into Germany late into the Second World War.
The Good: Not unlike the rest of the Battlefields stories, Garth Ennis’ writing is spot-on and he’s obviously doing something he loves in telling these war stories. If there’s one thing that “Tankies” delivers in writing-wise, it’s authenticity. The on-field commands and terminology feel well-researched and the combat looks realistic and accurate. Even the casual dialogue feels authentic, as Ennis does a great job of showing the wide cross-section of Great Britain that took part in the war, with the various regional accents being well-portrayed and the interactions between Englishmen of various class or area being well-done.
Ennis also does a great job of, once again, portraying the brutality of war. The gore is shocking, yet realistic, and the fear the men feel is all too real (the Tiger tank feels truly terrifying, both as specter and unstoppable killer). The theme of the “German soldier with his back against the wall” is well done and the “take no prisoners” response of the English is equally desolate. War is clearly a back and forth exchange of escalation, and Ennis shows that escalation can become a matter of emotion and brutality, not being restricted to weapons technology and tactics.
The art is well done and highly detailed and is a good fit for a war comic. The tanks look great, the explosions look great, and Ezquerra clearly has a talent for drawing the faces of men who are terrified and/or desperate.
The Bad: Honestly, the worst thing about this story is that it had to follow “Dear, Billy.” That story was one of the greatest things Ennis has ever written and so, by comparison, anything will look bad. Tankies, thus far, just isn’t as deep as its predecessor. It looks to be mostly about action and things blowing up in historically accurate fashion, and that just makes it a much simpler comic.
I guess at this point, I just don’t feel that there’s that much to this comic right now. It’s not bad, it’s just not near as good as its predecessors. Also, the characters don’t seem to carry the same level of depth or individuality.
Lastly, art-wise, I find some of Ezquerra’s blood splashes to be a little too….thick? Honestly, there are a few frames where it looks more like lava than blood.
Bottom-line: If you’ve been following Battlefields, you’ll be disappointed by this one, which isn’t to say that it isn’t good (it is), it’s just not exceptional. It’s still rock solid and authenticity is the name of the game here, but it’s just not as moving and not as complex, and I didn’t feel the same connections with the characters that I felt in past Battlefields comics. It’s still very good, and while a lot of fun was gained thanks to the action and obvious research, that fun came at the cost of something more intangible.
Final Grade: B-
by Alex Evans