The cover: Heavy damage is inflicted on a B-17 as a German fighter gets too close. Fantastic illustration by Matt Martin. The details on the planes are amazing and the coloring is fantastic. As good as the smoke and flames look, check out the clouds in the background–they look realistic. This is the type of cover that would look great as a print. Overall grade: A
The story: After last issue’s surprising and tragic beginnings to Leonard Wetmore’s entrance to WWII, he’s now on his fourth trip on a B-17 called Buffalo Gal. His first three trips as a gunner had only one dramatic moment: he saw his first B-17 go down over Brest. He wonders why that plane went down and his didn’t. The thought keeps him awake at night. On his next trip fighters appear and it’s absolute hell in the skies as Allied planes go down left and right. The action in this issue by Garth Ennis is absolutely riveting–I was afraid for each and every plane in the sky, and not just protagonist Wetmore on the Buffalo Gal. Cutting into the intensity is a five paged scene with Leonard being invited over to Paula’s house. Her son still has the same rotten attitude toward the American, but Paula is obviously fond of him. The dialogue on 11 and 12 is much better than I expected. I didn’t pick this book up for the romance of the American fighter and the British widow, but their story is growing on me. It is much better that what last issue teased. However, this story quickly ends and it’s back to the action which is as frightening as anything you can find, short of actual combat. The last three pages are a nice commentary on how the English took to bombing differently than the Americans, and the book ends with Leonard about to see his next major accident on the base. This was really enjoyable reading and I am liking the “down time” as much as the action. Overall grade: A
The art: The pages in the skies and on the base are wonderful. Artist Keith Burns is giving everything he’s got to putting unbelievable details into the combat. Even the first page, which just shows a fleet flying and establishes Wetmore’s location is elaborate. The double-paged spread on Pages 4 and 5 is electrifying, but is only a small taste of the violence to come. I swear I could hear each shell of Wetmore’s gun eject and hit the floor–it’s that good. The action that is drawn on Page 6 made me stop and gasp, mirroring the look of the protagonist at the bottom of the page. The later fight sequence would be a budget buster for a film. It’s a show stopper of a moment and something that every up and coming artist should look at to see how to stage such a massively populated and action packed sequence. It’s amazing looking! I didn’t care too much for the five pages that focus at Paula’s. The characters are drawn very angular in profile or too simplistically, such as with Paula. Burns does best when framing a panel looking down a hall or from outside. He’s obviously a details oriented artist, but needs to work more on the quiet moments. Still, this is just five pages out of twenty-two, and the rest of the book is stunning. Overall grade: A-
The colors: Beautiful work from Digikore Studios on this book. The action sequences are gorgeous. Each discharge of a gun or explosion is bright enough to rip across the blue sky to startle and worry readers. The job done on the event on Page 6 is really well done. I was also very pleased to see that if a character is wearing a mask the coloring is lightened to show the distortion from the glass. Digikore is working this like a champ! In the Paula scene the colors are very dark, to represent the wood in the furniture and windows and the colors of most homes at the time. One touch that I liked was the extremely well done coloring on a black and white photograph. It’s just one panel, but it looks great. Exceptional job. Overall grade: A+
The letters: Dialogue and narration are the same font, while italics are used for an excerpt from an instruction book. No sounds to be had anywhere, which was fine, but I wanted to see if Kurt Hathaway could pull off one or two without treading on the art. He doesn’t get that opportunity, but what he does is good. Overall grade: A
The final line: Reading this book makes me want to learn more about the war. If a comic can inspire someone to learn more about one of the biggest turning points in history, it’s got to be good. This is. Overall grade: A
Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer’s Guide for several years with “It’s Bound to Happen!”, he reviewed comics for TrekWeb, and he currently reviews Trek comics at TrekCore. He’s taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for two years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.