Saturday, April 9, 2011

Battlefields: Dear Billy #1

By Garth Ennis (writer) and Peter Snejbjerg (artist)

A rough opening chapter. A tale of two survivors, both left for dead by Japanese troops, in separate encounters during World War 2. As the war rages on both recover, physically. She (Carrie) returns to duty as a nurse, he (Billy) as a pilot. Both might consider themselves lucky to be alive if their minds weren't consumed with the moments surrounding their near death experiences.

As the title implies the story is told, from Carrie's perspective, in the form of a letter to Billy. They met at a hospital in Calcutta. She tells him, in the letter, things that she didn't share with him before their paths diverged and he returned to duty, things that she hasn't told anyone else before. What isn't clear, at this point, is whether the letter ever reached him.

The chapter ends with Carrie getting ready to tend to a captured Japanese pilot. The look in her eyes and the last couple pages give the impression that meeting Billy wasn't enough. Carrie feels the need to do more in order to expunge the memories of her treatment at the hands of the pilot's countrymen.

Perhaps the most disturbing aspect of this chapter is the matter-of-fact manner in which Carrie narrates the story, through her letter. The contrast between the cool, calm tone of the letter and hot emotions she hints at is palpable. Her words make the events seem very routine but images make it clear that she suffered and continues to suffer greatly because of what she experienced.

The story is beautifully drawn by Peter Snejbjerg but the most impressive thing about the look of the book is the coloring work of Bob Steen. The story is told with multiple pallettes. The daylight scenes are bright and vividly colored, the night scenes are much darker and muddier. It is hard to imagine the visuals having the same impact without colors chosen by Bob Steen.

Preview: Garth Ennis' Battlefields: Dear Billy #1

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