One and Done – War Story: Johann’s Tiger

Garth Ennis – Writer
Chris Weston – Artist
Gary Erskine – Inker
Pamela Rambo – Colours
Clem Robins – Letters

The book begins with Johann Kleist, Oberstleutnant to four men he likes to call orphans, though perhaps he himself could be called just as such. They have decided, after a long journey of battling Russians and being beaten back all the way across Europe, that they no longer wish to be in the German army and so have set out on their own in search of the Americans so that they might give themselves up and be done with it all. Kleist wants his men to be safe, though no such thoughts enter his mind about himself. The war deserves him and he it, and while writer Garth Ennis starts this tale off by making readers feel a bit of sympathy for the man, that soon dissolves when his true colours are revealed by his own words, the things that he has done in the name of service to his country being beyond evil. Still, as the tale moves on and the men in their Tiger face obstacle upon obstacle, the Russians ever gaining on their position as they chase them back to the Fatherland, they feel the war closing in upon them like never before. Johann is worried that they might not make it to safety before the worst comes upon them and yet, on the other hand, he has been through hundreds of battles with those he travels with and he knows that if anyone can survive, it is them. As it is, the clock runs out and when it comes down to the final minute, while he is unable to save his men, they end up saving him, something he did not want in the slightest. Ennis writes good war stories and here in this one-shot, he puts the focus upon the Germans and one tank in particular that has seen more action than most. He hints at the history of these five men, Johann included and shows a little bit of it, the rest untold and lost to history much like many a story from the war. All that matters is the now and he paints a grim picture with artists Chris Weston and Gary Erskine, one where it has gotten so bad these men have decided to surrender and defect from Hitler’s Reich, where they eat rats because they have no food and where every hour they live is a battle to continue doing so. The story immediately captures the reader’s attention and holds it firm until that last page where Johann’s fate finally catches up to him, an ending he did not foresee coming and one he wishes was anything but. Tense and suspenseful, packed with action and desperation, Johann’s Tiger is a war story for those who want something a little different from the norm and it is that and more, all of it good.

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