Pop Culture Gadabout
Saturday, December 03, 2011
      ( 12/03/2011 05:22:00 PM ) Bill S.  


“MY HOME IS THE REGIMENT.” The eighth volume in Titan Books’ continued reprint of the hard-nosed British war comic, Charley's War: Hitler's Youth opens with an intriguing plotline. Chronicling the Great War adventures of young Charlie Bourne, serving as an assistant sniper on the Western Front at this point in the storyline, the series imagines a young Adolph Hitler as a corporal in the regiment on the other side of No Man’s Land. Moving between Charley’s unit and the Germans, delving into the psychology of the future Nazi who self-reportedly survived several major attacks during WWI, the strip works to avoid the cartoonish portrayal of Hitler that has characterized so many boys’ war comics – and to a large extent succeeds.

As reported in an intro by Steve White, the facts behind Hitler’s actual participation in the Great War have since become clouded by propagandistic efforts to either elevate or debunk his involvement along with the Gestapo’s destruction of many paper records from the first war. Still, research-minded scripter Pat Mills’ treatment of this monster-in-training rings believably. Though Titan Books’ description of the set gives the impression that our hero Charley will have a confrontation with the man, this never really happens: instead, we’re treated to sequences depicting Hitler as a fierce young soldier. When the rest of his fellow soldiers take advantage of a Christmas armistice celebration, for instance, the corporal remains behind, hunting rats in the trenches, stubbornly refusing to fraternize with the enemy.

Even with the temporary truce, Mills does not let the reader forget the grim realities of war; despite its appearance in a weekly boys’ war comic, “Charley’s War” decidedly did not indulge in gung-ho fantasizing. Thus, as both sides return to their trenches, the strips narration notes each soldier who won’t make it out of the war alive. “1918 would be the last and most terrible year of the war,” we’re told before the strip leaves Hitler and young Charley to follow the latter’s brother Wilf as he serves as P.B.O. (Poor Blinking Observer) for a half-mad bi-plane pilot named Morgan. Artist Joe ("Johnny Red") Colquhoun clearly relishes the opportunity to get out of the mud: his flying battle sequences and lavished with loving boyish detail and explosive impact.

In writer Mills’ hands, the world of the P.B.O.s and their glory hungry pilots has its roots in the British class system, with observers being treated as expendable proles in the air. Captain Morgan, we’re told, has already lost three observers, and we get to see a fourth fall to screaming death in the course of battle. Just another poor blinking observer. . .

“Charley’s War” first appeared in three-page installments as a part of the black-and white British comic magazine Battle from 1979 – 85, a remarkable run for so unglamorous a war comic. This current volume ends with two sequences returning to our title hero in the trenches. Hitler’s regiment, we’re told, has left, but there are still plenty of Jerries to fend off. To add to Charley’s woes, he’s also accidentally roused the enmity of a former comrade recently raised to officer’s rank. “He’s jealous of my success,” this new antagonist thinks, “the way I worked my way up from the ranks!” At times, it seems like the Bourne Boys’ war is less against the Germans and more against undeserved rank and privilege.

(First published on Blogcritics.)

Labels:

# |



Pop cultural criticism - plus the occasional egocentric socio/political commentary by Bill Sherman (popculturegadabout AT yahoo.com).



On Sale Now!
Measure by Measure:



A Romantic Romp with the Fat and Fabulous
By Rebecca Fox & William Sherman

(Available through Amazon)

Measure by Measure Web Page







Ask for These Fine Cultural Blogs & Journals by Name!

aaronneathery.com News
Aaron Neathery

American Sideshow Blow-Off
Marc Hartzman

Arf Lovers
Craig Yoe

Attentiondeficitdisorderly
Sean T. Collins

Barbers Blog
Wilson Barbers

The Bastard Machine
Tim Goodman

The Beat
Heidi MacDonald

BeaucoupKevin
Kevin Church

Big Fat Blog
Paul McAleer

Big Mouth Types Again
Evan Dorkin

Bloggity-Blog-Blog-Blog
Laura "Tegan" Gjovaag

Blog This, Pal!
Gordon Dymowski

Bookgasm
Rod Lott

Cartoon Brew
Amid Amidi & Jerry Beck

Cartoon Web Log!
Daryl Cagle

Clea's Cave
Juana Moore-Overmyer

Collected Editions

The Comics Curmudgeon
Josh Fruhlinger

The Comics Reporter
Tom Spurgeon

Comics.212
Christopher Butcher

Comics Waiting Room
Marc Mason

Comics Worth Reading
Johanna Draper Carlson

a dragon dancing with the Buddha
Ben Varkentine

Egon

Electromatic Radio
Matt Appleyard Aaron Neathery

Estoreal
RAB

Eye of the Goof
Mr. Bali Hai

Fred Sez
Fred Hembeck

Greenbriar Picture Shows
John McElwee

The Groovy Age of Horror
Curt Purcell

The Hooded Utilitarian
Noah Berlatsky

Hooray for Captain Spaulding
Daniel Frank

The Horn Section
Hal

The House Next Door
Matt Zoller Seitz

Howling Curmudgeons
Greg Morrow & Friends

The Hurting
Tim O'Neil

I Am A Child of Television
Brent McKee

I Am NOT the Beastmaster
Marc Singer

In Sequence
Teresa Ortega

Innocent Bystander
Gary Sassaman

Irresponsible Pictures
Pata

Jog - The Blog
Joe McCulloch

The Johnny Bacardi Show
David Allen Jones

Journalista
Dirk Deppey

King's Chronicles
Paul Dini

Let's You And Him Fight
One of the Jones Boys

Mah Two Cents
Tony Collett

Metrokitty
Kitty

Michael's Movie Palace
Michael

Nat's TV
Nat Gertler

Ned Sonntag

Neilalien

News from ME
Mark Evanier

No Rock&Roll Fun
Simon B

Omega Channel
Matt Bradshaw

Pen-Elayne on the Web
Elayne Riggs

PeterDavid.net
Peter David

(postmodernbarney.com)
Dorian White

Progressive Ruin
Mike Sterling

Punk Rock Graffiti
Cindy Johnson & Autumn Meredith

Revoltin' Developments
Ken Cuperus

Rhinoplastique
Marc Bernardin

Scrubbles
Matt Hinrichs

Self-Styled Siren
Campaspe

Spatula Forum
Nik Dirga

Tales from the Longbox
Chris Mosby

TangognaT

The Third Banana
Aaron Neathery & Friends

Thrilling Days of Yesteryear
Ivan G. Shreve, Jr.

Toner Mishap
B2 et al

Trusty Plinko Stick
Bill Doughty

TV Barn
Aaron Barnhart et al

Unqualified Offerings
Jim Henley

Various And Sundry
Augie De Blieck

Video WatchBlog
Tim Lucas

When Fangirls Attack
Kalinara & Ragnell

X-Ray Spex
Will Pfeifer

Yet Another Comics Blog
Dave Carter



A Brief Political Disclaimer:

If this blog does not discuss a specific political issue or event, it is not because this writer finds said event politically inconvenient to acknowledge - it's simply because he's scatterbrained and irresponsible.




My Token List of Poli-Blogs:

Alicublog
Roy Edroso

Eschaton
Atrios

Firedoglake
Jane Hamsher

James Wolcott

Lance Mannion

The Moderate Voice
Joe Gandelman

Modulator
Steve

Pandagon
Amanda Marcotte & Friends

The Sideshow
Avedon Carol

Skippy, the Bush Kangaroo
Skippy

Talking Points Memo
Joshua Micah Marshall

This Modern World
Tom Tomorrow

Welcome to Shakesville
Melissa McEwan & Friends



Blogcritics: news and reviews
Site Feed



Powered by Blogger



Twittering:
    follow me on Twitter