Wednesday 23 September 2020

Book Review - From the pages of Battle: Major Eazy vs. Rat Pack

From The Pages of Battle: Major Eazy vs. Rat Pack
Art by Carlos Ezquerra, Story by Alan Hebden

During the mid to late 1970s the now late great Carlos Ezquerra was becoming one of the most important creators in British comics. On top of co-creating Judge Dredd and Strontium Dog, he was instrumental in the genesis of a wealth of characters being spawned in the UK war comics scene of the time. As well as the recently re-issued El Mestizo there were Major Eazy and Rat Pack, which came together in this classic crossover story from 1977. Time to rewind to the pages of Battle Picture Weekly...

Inspired by The Dirty Dozen, Rat Pack were the original Suicide Squad, a group of convicts released from prison to pursue highly dangerous missions during World War 2, while Major Eazy (as the name suggests) is a laid-back officer with a near-total disregard for authority and protocol, based heavily on movie characters played by James Coburn. When Rat Pack's Major Taggart is trapped in a crashed car on the way back from a mission and captured when the position is overrrun, the Pack retreat from the overwhelming German forces towards the British line. On the way the Tiger tank they commandeered is attacked, and as they flee the burning vehicle they are confronted by Major Eazy! Super soldier Eazy dominates the Rat Pack and takes command, leading them back to the German lines to rescue their commanding officer from the Gestapo. Thus begins a series of commando raid adventures across the Italian front, where Rat Pack find that fighting the Germans is preferable to fighting with Major Eazy...

The book is rounded off with a couple of one-issue-wonders, complete war stories published in a single issue of Battle, included here because they were once again drawn by Carlos. A lovely dessert to this feast for the eyes.

It feels a little bit strange, looking at this fantastic Ezquerra artwork crammed into the tiny panels of Battle, but it is a wonderful reminder that the great man never felt the need to change his art style in over 40 years! Hey, if it ain't broke... Every page is crammed with commando action, blasting the comic along at a frenetic pace. Be warned though, this is a slice of comics history, which is brilliant for a nostalgia trip, but falls down in the usual places for a book of it's time... Dodgy and convenient plot points, even dodgier German cliches, an over reliance on speech bubble story telling... But that's part of the fun! The blast from the past might not appeal to newer readers, but the artwork is an absolute joy and should be compulsive viewing for anyone who enjoys Carlos Ezquerra art or classic British war comics.

Another quality release from the Treasury of British Comics imprint, reminding us of a talent we may never see the like of again.

Comics releases are a little shaky at the moment, but this one is due out on October 1st. (at the time of writing)

David Mustill

By day, David Mustill is a Human Workhorse for a chemical company. Naturally, every possible moment away from this existence is spent gaming and painting miniatures.

A steady diet of rock, metal, punk, comics, gaming, miniatures and genre movies has moulded David into a renaissance geek, for whom no gaming company or genre is too obscure, and no graphic novel is unreadable.

He is currently the Chairman of Milton Hundred Wargames Club, which affords him the privilege of running the Broadside Games Show. He will not let you down. Unless you're after selfies. He is rubbish at selfies...

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