Traces of the Great War

German infantry montage in Traces of the Great War

Featuring 18 short comics, created by a handful of interesting comics creators (mostly from France and the UK, but a few from elsewhere around the world), this anthology marks the centenary of World War I.

Death looms large over the battlefields of WW1 in Traces of the Great War

It’s a broad spread of stories but most channel the title of the anthology and focus on what’s left behind: memories; written accounts; scarred landscapes; and the relatives of the dead, struggling to come to terms with the sacrifices made by their ancestors.

There are flashes of genius here and none of the creators take the subject lightly. Instead we’re treated to grave, tragic pieces, where even the flippancy of youth and ignorance is weighed down by the shadows of the past. The ghosts of soldiers haunt fractured towns and landscapes; skeletons emerge from and return to the soil of forgotten battlefields; and in one particularly poignant piece, Europe’s wars echo through time, reminding us that comparatively short periods of peace like the one we’re currently enjoying shouldn’t be taken for granted.

Few war stories fully embrace war but this book pushes hard against it, acknowledging the tragic loss of life and embracing the spirit of remembrance, but critiquing the politics and the build-up. In our modern times, with wars on our doorstep and diplomatic uncertainty with our neighbours, this is a stark reminder of how we’re never far enough away from the brink of another global disaster.

Story: 4 Art: 4 Overall: 4

Written by: Robbie Morrison, Riff Reb's, Jean-David Morvan, Mikiko, Maël, Kris, L'Atelier Virtuel, Aurélien Ducoudray, Joe Kelly, Ian Rankin, Marguerite Abouet, Victoria Lomasko, Simon Armitage, Edmond Baudoin, Mary Talbot, Régis Hautière, Orijit Sen, Lapière, Denis
Art by: Charlie Adlard, Riff Reb's, Hiroyuki Ooshima, Mikiko, Maël, Juan Diaz Canales, L'Atelier Virtuel, Efa, Ken Niimura, Sean Phillips, Ergün Gündüz, Victoria Lomasko, Dave McKean, Edmond Baudoin, Bryan Talbot, Thomas von Kummant, Orijit Sen, Aude Samama, Scie-Tronc
Publisher: Image Comics
First published: 2018

Andy Shaw

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