When Anna Met Kurt
Garth Ennis and I have a love-hate relationship: namely, when market considerations don't compel him to include superheroes in his work, which he further feels compelled to denigrate for black comedy, I frequently love his work. As an historian, his war comics are particularly enjoyable. Most recently, he did a series of Battlefields minis for Dynamite (three three-issue stories), which sold quite well - now a new run of Battlefields minis has been announced, two of which will be sequels to two of the previous minis (the third original one doesn't leave much ground for a sequel). Should be good.
So in honour of this news, here's seven pages from Battlefields: Night Witches #3, one of the stories getting a follow-up.
So, backstory: Night Witches is the only of the first there minis that hasn't a Brit in sight (Dear Billy is set in British Malaya and India, The Tankies in Normandy), taking place in that notorious bastion of cheer, the Russian front. The title characters are female pilots who do risky night-bombing runs on the German lines in semi-obsolete aircraft, among them Captain Anna Kharkova. She's an optimistic soul, which is a bad sign in any war story (or any Garth Ennis story), and volunteers to be a pilot, and has to deal with the existing male pilots' lack of consideration, but gradually wins the respect and then love of her CO. So it's a bit like Mulan...if Garth Ennis wrote it. So the CO in question is killed in a dogfight, which obviously angers her.
Also in the story is Kurt, a young German soldier who is struggling with his shitty job, and trying to keep his morals by refusing to partake in the gang-rape of local women (the CO then kills the woman in question and orders him to remain in the basement with her body all night). So, yeah, not having a great time.
At the climax, Anna's two-seater is shot down near Kurt's squad:
I like how Ennis writes both their dialogue leading up to this scene in simple English, without the "< >" convention; I don't know whether that was intentional or not (since, really, neither of them would be assumed to be speaking English), but you only realize she doesn't understand what he's saying when he does.
She knifes him a couple more times, then steals his gun and leaves him bleeding in th snow. He staggers back towards the camp...
Quoth Homer: I hope you learned your lesson, Lisa. Never help anyone.
There's a few gory panels here, but pretty mild be Ennis standards.