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Thursday, September 27, 2007

Death Or Glory

Death Or Glory (Battle Picture Library Collection No.1) was released by Prion (an imprint of Carlton Books) in September 2007. The book is available from Amazon.co.uk at a hefty discount, as is it's companion, Unleash Hell.

Contents

Shock Tactics (BPL 66, Jul 1962), Art: Anibale Casabianca
The Rats of Tobruk (BPL 1, Jan 1961), Art: Renzo Calegari
Fighting Blood (BPL 20, Jul 1961), Art: Roberto Diso/Santo D'Amico
Blood on the Sand (BPL 12, May 1961), Art: Leopoldo Duranona
Trained to Kill (BPL 3, Feb 1961), Art: Fred Holmes
Dawn Attack (BPL 37, Dec 1961), Art: (Creazioni D'Ami studio)
Blaze of Glory (BPL 32, Oct 1961), Art: Jorge Moliterni
Jaws of Hell (BPL 29, Oct 1961), Art: Aldoma Puig
Macey's Mob (BPL 71, Aug 1962), Art: Nevio Zeccara
Battle Order (BPL 13, Jun 1961), Art: Nevio Zeccara
Seize--and Hold (BPL 68, Jul 1962), Art: Renato Polese
Crack-Up (BPL 9, May 1961), Art: John Severin

The stories were written by H. Ken Bulmer (better known for his SF novels; 29, 37), A. Carney Allan (father of Angus Allan and a prolific writer for D. C. Thomson and Amalgamated Press; 1, 13), Donne Avenell (later better known for his scripts for The Phantom; 9, 68), J & S Thomas (66), Norman Worker (an editor on the girls' papers and, like Donne Avenell, a writer for The Phantom; 12) and Douglas Leach (20). Other writers are yet to be identified.

Synopsis

When it comes to telling stories about the Second World War few did it better than the authors of "Battle Picture Library"! Here at last is the collection you've been waiting for, gathering together 12 of the toughest tales of war ever told. From the bomb-shattered roads of Europe to the stifling jungles of the Far East, below the crashing waves of the Atlantic or in the war-torn skies over England's green fields - these stories of courage and comradeship stirred the imaginations of generations of British children whose parents and grandparents struggled against the Axis powers bent on enslaving nations. The stories you'll find in this volume have an incredible range, from action with the Desert Rats to top-secret missions for Military Intelligence via the nightmare dreams of a Captain in the airborne division and the heroic rise of Jack Charlton (not that Jack Charlton) to the head of Baker Company. It's not just rattling good history... it's explosive! Attracting some of the finest talent from across Europe, these visceral pocket novels are reproduced 25 per cent bigger than the originals so you can revel in every glorious detail. If you remember these books from your schooldays, get ready to relive the excitement. If you're new to them... have we got an experience for you!

Alternative cover

Promotional material

Reviews

"This second collection of sixties war comics from the Fleetway stable is if anything even better than it's predecessor. While "Unleash Hell" devoted itself to 12 of the best War Picture Library stories, "Death or Glory" is sourced from Battle Picture Library, again these stories are similarly selected with exquisite good taste by editor Steve Holland, but importantly Battle Picture Library was launched some three years after the debut of War and the stories show a consequent maturity and depth of characterisation, which was becoming increasingly important as straight forward tales of derring-do made way for an altogether more psychological take on men in extremis.
"As a result the stories here are if anything even more vivid, as the heroic and phlegmatic heroic archetypes of the earlier war comics are replaced by men with often deeply flawed personalities. There are sterling examples of such tales contained within the pages of this impressive compendium, the disintegration of Colonel Jesse Stark literally reprising his worst nightmare as he leads a group of paratroopers on a seemingly doomed mission behind enemy lines in "Crack Up" (beautifully delineated by U.S. artist John Severin already familiar to readers of E.C.'s "Two Fisted Tales" and "Frontline Combat") or the memorable courtroom deposition of the events leading up to the murder of a British Officer on active service in the equally memorable "Seize and Hold" are both classic tales that engage the reader from the get-go, but even these pale in comparison to the phenonenal "Blaze of Glory" a story where the strong become weak, the weak become strong and two men's friendship is similarly rudely juxtaposed as situations beyond their control create one of the most memorable war stories ever committed to the pages of a comic, the denoument of this story is simply unforgettable and the last panel will sear it's way into your subconscious, it is perhaps one of the greatest ever panels from any kind of comic, let alone the relatively humble war comic.
"So a book well worthy of it's five stars.
"Usual beefs about the quality of reproduction still stand, i.e. could be a lot better, but then the original interior artwork is long gone and we are talking here about scanning from the comics themselves. Which means everything rests on the quality of the scans often trying to compensate for deficencies in the printing of these stories. Some are better than others, Renzo Calegari's beautiful artwork for "The Rats of Tobruk" comes off particularly badly but other stories fare better. Re-touching is conspicuous by it's abscence even when the stories would have benefitted from at least the removal of printing flaws created by the paper warp on the comics which were used as the source of these reprints.
"So definitely could do better in the repro department and the covers to these stories could be more adequately represented, and some credits wouldn't go amiss either. But really these are relatively minor (ish) caveats. The book is superb and anyone with the remotest desire to recapture their childhood via the pages of these books will not be disappointed.
"Can't wait to see more of these!" -- Amazon.

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