Why am I writing to you about a comic called Battlefields?
It’s not just because of my deep and lasting love for the work of Garth Ennis, creator of Preacher, among many other excellent comics.
It’s because The Night Witches , a three-part miniseries, is the story of an all-female fighter pilot squadron in the Soviet Union during World War II. And yes, it’s based on a true story.
These women were given substandard planes and flew only at night, and faced horrible treatment from their own side as well as the opposition, and yet they fought as bravely as any of the men.
We follow Anna, a pilot so tiny she needs to sit on a cushion to be able to see to fly her plane, as she heads into her first battle in this first issue, and right away we’re horrified, not just by the treatment of the women, but because Ennis takes care to show how bloody, pointless and cruel war really is. Russ Braun’s art conveys the horror, while rendering Anna cute and likable without being a typical sexy comics babe.
War stories may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but in today’s world I think it’s important to remember stories like these that have gone before, as well as the war stories that are still ongoing. We don’t have to glorify combat to remember the people who served, especially the ones whose stories have mostly been erased from history.
Happy belated Veterans’ Day.