One and Done – War Story: Archangel

Garth Ennis – Writer
Gary Erskine – Artist
Paul Mounts – Colours
Clem Robins – Letters

In what is perhaps the most action-packed tale under the War Story banner, Garth Ennis and Gary Erskine tell an exciting story featuring a sad-sack hero who has little faith in his abilities, thinks he will most likely die during the war and yet, is far better than he knows. While on a mission, he accidentally hits the captain’s plane with a bit of gunfire through no fault of his own and yet, after admitting so, is punished by being sent to serve on a CAM ship. Jamie has no idea what a CAM ship is and when reporting for duty and discovering what it entails, it scares him to no end. Utter madness is all he can think and unbeknownst to him, so does his new commanding officer and yet he goes through the training and is dispatched to Russia to aid in the war effort there. To say he is nervous is putting it lightly and yet when the time comes, he is all business and as he and his Hurricat are launched from the catapult on the Empire Star, he gives the Nazis a run for their money, fending them off and just barely making it to land as he is running on fumes. This story sees Ennis look at one of the Second World War’s most fascinating experiments, one that most would call lunacy and yet it is one that ultimately worked. The CAM ship or catapult aircraft merchant ship would be used to offset the lack of aircraft carriers and would launch a single plane from its bow when it came time to do so. For those brave men flying those planes, it might have seemed like they were going to perish simply taking off, though once in the sky, they would have other problems such as completing whatever mission they were assigned and more importantly, finding somewhere to land as going back to the ship was simply impossible. That meant making it back to some sort of airfield or abandoning the craft and landing in the drink where hopefully someone would come along for a rescue. Factoring in the usual interesting characters that Ennis is known for, the book makes for an excellent read and breezes by in no time at all compared to other War Story issues. As for Erskine, the man outdoes himself on the artwork throughout, the air battles specifically being breathtaking. The amount of detail the man pours into each and every panel is beyond perfect and not only is this book the best of the bunch from a story point of view, so too is it visually. Putting it over the top is the fact that Ennis based Jamie off of a real-life person whose actions would be mirrored on the page, letting the mind of the reader imagine what it must have been like to experience such things and making Arcangel all the better for it.

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