This second volume of Garth Ennis’s War Stories follows the same pattern as the first, containing four short stories that are firmly entrenched in fact: although the dialogue is fictitious, the scenarios around which they’re based are well-researched and honestly portrayed. Each story is expertly illustrated by a top artist, seemingly chosen to perfectly capture the mood of his story.
There’s a 20th Century European bias to the proceedings, as we see the SAS fighting and playing hard in the African desert; RAF fighter pilots bombing German cities or being catapulted off ships in the Arctic Sea; and a multi-national group of opposing combatants stranded together in a crater during the Spanish Civil War.
The action is thrilling, all the more so because you know that men like these were out there, less than a lifetime ago, sacrificing their lives for their countries and their beliefs. Both writing and art feel authentic and sympathetic, unafraid to portray the horrors of war but managing to portray their characters as normal men, turned into heroes through circumstances way beyond their control.
Ennis’s enthusiasm for the genre and respect for his subject matter shines through, leaving the reader with four stories of 20th century warfare that are unlikely to leave them when the book is closed.