Garth Ennis won’t be able to write comics about all of the stories to be told in WWII. He continues to give it his best try in the two arcs in this volume that detail some drastically different experiences in the European and Pacific Theaters. “Our Wild Geese Go” has the writer showing us what it was like for Irishmen who technically deserted their army to go fight in the war. While the Nazis are still the bad guys here, the scars left by Ireland’s bloody history of nationalism threaten to undo the unity of one particular squad. “The Tokyo Club” is an exclusive one with some very specific requirements: First, you have to fly escort to bombers headed to Tokyo from Iwo Jima. Next, you have to make it back to base alive. Then, you do it all over again in another day or two. Neither story is particularly exceptional by Ennis’ accomplished work in the war story genre. However, they do benefit from his standard attention to detail in recounting these specific experiences and characterization that helps put faces on them.
Where they’re let down, in part, is in the art from Tomas Aira. I didn’t say much about his work in the previous volume because he handled the tank combat action well and was dealing with a relatively small cast in both of the stories he illustrated. Aira is still good with the action and the scenes that have the Irish infantrymen under fire and the pilots braving the skies to Tokyo are the most striking in the book. The problem is that his characters tend to have a generic look about them and it becomes difficult to tell the supporting cast apart after a while. It’s kind of a problem in the first story, and a bigger one in the second with its expanded cast. Maybe the monthly grind was getting to Aira at this point, but I found myself wishing for someone like Steve Dillon to come over and show us how to distinguish a roster like this. The first two volumes of Ennis’ “War Stories” at Vertigo boasted an impressive roster of artists in their pages. I’d say it’s time to take a cue from that format and bring in a new artist with each arc. It couldn’t hurt to give Aira some time off so he can show us what he can do when he’s not delivering a book a month.