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The Best Of Battle Volume One

1/01/2010. Contributed by RJ Barker

Buy The Best Of Battle Volume One in the USA - or Buy The Best Of Battle Volume One in the UK

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pub: Titan Books. 285 page softcover graphic novel. Price: 9.99 (UK), $19.95 (US), $24.95 (CAN). ISBN: 978-1-84856-025-3).

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A collection of the best strips from 'Battle Comic' which ran from 1975 to 1988.

I jumped at this when Uncle Geoff offered it to me. Then wished I hadn't as I'd done it out of nostalgia which is often a quick road to disappointment. Often, but not always.

My memories of 'Battle' and it's sister comic 'Action!' are the pocket-sized books it published for twenty five pence each that my Granddad used to buy me. Trotting around to the newsagent to get my dosage of Jerry being shot in the face by doughty British heroes was always a treat.

Readers of SFCrowsnest may wonder what this has to do with SF but a number of the writers and artists from 'Battle' went on to give us '2000AD'. In fact, Pat Mills who writes most of the introductions gave us 'Nemesis The Warlock' which is, for my money, one of the best SF comic strips of all time.

There's a disclaimer in the front of 'Battle' which made me a bit sad. It's basically an apology for some of the things said. Right enough, a lot of the language used in this graphic novel wouldn't be acceptable to many of today's parents. Certainly, plucky soldiers giving it to 'Teery taliban' would cause gasps and furore. In 'Battle', Japanese are 'Nips,' Russians are 'Ivan' and the Germans are 'Huns'. A lot of these strips were written or advised on by people who fought in the war so they act as a valuable social record of the way people thought at that time.

More importantly, each strip is great to read. The stand out is 'Charlie's War' the tale of an under-age boy who enlists to fight in the Somme, rendered in loving period detail and justifiably praised by many critics. However, every strip stands up by itself. Most are presented in groups of three and without fail, I was disappointed when one strip ended and desperate to read more; then delighted by the new strip that followed.

This is an absolutely splendid collection and will be lapped up by anyone with an interest in military fiction of any sort, as long as they're not too politically correct.

RJ Barker

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This book has 45 votes in the sci-fi charts

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