Saturday, May 11, 2013

Battlefields #6

Written by Garth Ennis
Art by Russ Braun

I really don't understand why I don't hear and see more about Garth Ennis's excellent war series Battlefields.  This issue finishes off the third volume of this terrific series, and brings to a close the third storyline featuring Anna Kharkova, a Russian 'Night-Witch'; a pilot who was trained to aid in the fight against the Nazis in the Second World War.

When this issue opens, it is 1964, and the visibly aged Anna Kharkova, former hero of the Soviet Union, is trapped in a gulag in Eastern Siberia.  She's been imprisoned with her friend Mouse, mostly because of her long-standing rivalry with Merkulov, the former NKVD intelligence officer.  Ironically, Merkulov is now running the camp where Kharkova is incarcerated, and doesn't pass up a single opportunity to belittle and degrade her, not that he ever gets his wish.

When a top-secret Russian jet is brought to the camp to be tested, Merkulov sees his chance to get back into the Communist Party's good graces, while Anna just sees another opportunity to fly.

Ennis has surprised me with the balance he's found in these comics, between traditional war comics tropes and strong, believable characters.  Anna Kharkova started out as a bit of a stereotype, but she's become a solid, respectable character over the course of her story.  This issue's end left me with a small smile, and I could not think of a better ending for her story.  Great stuff.

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