Sunday, 13 December 2009
I was never that into the british war weeklies back in The Bronze Age. Mags like Valiant and The Victor, although I bought them occasionally just seemed, well....kind of old fashioned. Full of strips that were rooted in a late '50's idea of what comics should be, they simply weren't as sexy as the american comics. Even Battle, John Wagner & Pat Mill's war anthology that began in 1975, had it's fair share of plucky Tommy's taking on Jerry under fairly dull artwork ( or so it seemed at the time. ) But there were glorious exceptions. Battle was a conflicted beast, midway between the traditional boys comic feel of The Victor and the all-out anarchy of Action, ( and by extension, paving the way for the insanity of 2000AD ). As well as the brutally realistic Charley's War, and the anti-establishment japes of Major Eazy, Battle also mined it's own field in visceral, fuck you war strips: Like Darkie's Mob.
If Major Eazy was british comics' answer to Kelly's Heroes, then Darkie's Mob was surely it's version of Apocalypse Now. As brutal, vicious, unrelenting & uncompromising as it's lead character, Darkie's Mob was the legend of Captain Joe Darkie, a hate-fuelled, stone-cold rat bastard of a hero who, through fear and intimidation, molds a squad of stragglers in the Burmese jungle into ' the most savage fighting force the japanese have ever known. '
But Darkie is not entirely what he appears to be, and the revelation of his mysterious past is part of what drives the story. Like a lot of war mags at the time, there is a breathtaking amount of casual racism, ( I doubt you'd even get away with the title these days! ) but here it kind of fits. Joe ain't a good guy by any stretch of the imagination, making Sgt's Rock & Fury look like loud-mouthed fakes every blood-drenched step of the way.
Titan are about to release collected editions of both Darkie & Eazy, and I'm gonna be snapping 'em up, but for now, here's the opener. Don't fear the japs! Fear Me!