Comics

Issue by Issue – War is Hell #13

Writer – Chris Claremont
Artist – Herb Trimpe
Colours – Michele Wolfman
Letters – John Costanza

John Brabham of the Royal Air Force manages to take a few bullets while on mission and as he dies in the cockpit, as his plane screams towards the earth, Death intervenes and John Kowalski lives again. With only a moment to spare, the instincts Kowalski shares with Brabham take over and he saves himself in the nick of time. Battle with the Nazis finally takes its toll on his plane and though he has to abandon it, is soon picked up by a ship headed to Dunkirk to help with the evacuation of those Allies that still remain. It is here that he meets Tom Mannering and his song Keith and Kowalski knows that Death has something in store for one of them, though what that is he does not know. Chris Claremont who continues to chronicle the tales of John Kowalski soon makes this apparent that whatever is going to happen will do so with the boy named Keith who seems to be enamoured with the war. Keith has no idea just what war entails, no idea about the dangers and the risks that go along with it, and no idea of the tragedy of it all. Going ashore while the boat needs repairs, Kowalski agrees to look after Keith as they tour around the city and the sights they see would become common around Europe at the time. Soon they make their war out to the country and straight into a battle with the Germans and Kowalski knows that keeping Keith alive is of the utmost importance. Claremont and artist Herb Trimpe ramp up the action exponentially and the fight is what one would expect as men are cut down, bullets flying in every direction and soldiers on both sides trying to get the better of each other. The turning point is when young Keith sees a German soldier from a tank burn to death, begging for help as he does so. It is a gruesome sight to watch the flesh melt off of a man and it cuts deep into Keith and while Kowalski does not like it, a part of him does as Keith has now learned a valuable lesson and it is one that might keep him alive, at least a bit longer in this godforsaken war. Trimpe knows how to lay out a page and knows how to make it both exciting and horrific if need be while Claremont weaves a compelling story that hooks the reader right in. While Kowalski does not die at the end of this tale, it leaves off with a little premonition, courtesy of his companion Death and it could not be any better, or worse.

4 out of 5

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