cover image CHARLEY'S WAR: 2 June 1916–1 August 1916

CHARLEY'S WAR: 2 June 1916–1 August 1916

Pat Mills, . . Titan, $19.95 (112pp) ISBN 978-1-84023-627-9

Created with passionate love and hate, this continuing story from the 1979 British weekly Battle Action focuses on the plight of common soldiers during WWI. Young Charley Bourne is in some ways the ideal enlisted man: he's not especially bright, but he believes devoutly in his king and country and is certain that he and his comrades will triumph because of their natural superiority to foreigners. He soon learns better. The Allies are bogged down in muddy trenches, shooting at the enemy across a shell-torn no man's land, while most of their officers are either sadistic martinets or doddering fools. Charley's courage and his fellowship with his "mates" are genuine; so, however, is the pointless slaughter of young men. The story builds up to the Battle of the Somme, a historical catastrophe that resulted in virtually unchanged battle lines despite over a million casualties. Mills's carefully researched scripts bristle with rage at the hardships the soldiers endured and the society that betrayed them. An especially effective touch is the use of interpolated scraps of Charley's letters, where he struggles not to tell his family how awful his experience is, followed by their pathetically ignorant, patriotic replies. Colquhoun's dark brushwork is lovingly detailed and horribly convincing. Timelessly relevant and well researched, this is a comics classic. (Mar.)