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Battle picture weekly - Terror Behind the Bamboo curtain 
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Joined: 18 Apr 2014, 00:48
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After eight months, Carver was the first new series to emerge in 1979. However, it was a low key affair that lasted only six episodes. The premise was intriguing where a major of the special investigation branch, Carver, was assigned the task of investigating the death of Captain Walsh in the Middle-East and who had Roman gold coins on his person. With five prime suspects of Walsh's unit, Carver found himself not only in the midst of a murder inquiry but also the target of the murderer's next victim. The trouble was that, with each episode, Carver's prime suspect was eliminated from friendly fire. Of course, the longevity of this series was heading for a shortfall. It was a simple "who-dun-it?" case that wasn't intended for an enduring ride. The narrative evoked the strands of a girl's, mystery story, which the girls in general loved. The boys didn't. With hindsight, this short series would have disgruntled the boys. Terror Behind the Bamboo Curtain most certainly did. Despite the tragic-drama of Charley's War and HMS Nightshade, which almost turned the boys to something different, Carver was a bridge too far - they just wouldn't accept this form of narrative no matter how engaging it was. Where a mystery lied, they wanted it to remain buried... literally. The boys wanted action and it's a testament to both Wagner and Mills that they delivered what the boys wanted while, at the same time, offering a deeper alternative if required. Unsurprisingly, Carver wasn't recalled for future investigations. At least the artist, Eduardo Vano, was recalled after a long absence from the pages of Battle. As to the writer of Carver - that remains a mystery... unless anyone is able to shed any light on his identity.


12 Jan 2018, 01:19
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The intricacies of Charley's War pivoted a narrative on comics that was all but an alien process back in 1979. Not even 2000 AD, at this juncture, had yielded such a complex, ongoing series. After a long stint during the Battle of the Somme, Charley and the rest of his unit retired from the front for rest and recuperation that lasted for six issues. Of course, during this time, there was plenty of conflict - namely with the police Sergeant Bacon, aka "The Beast" who enjoyed subjecting soldiers to harsh disciplinary measures in his "Field Punishment" where the unfortunate victim would be staked out on a wooden wheel. Yet, pushing aside the internal strife that was necessary to maintain a reader's interest, there resided an underlying sub-text with regard to how the soldiers spent their time away from the trenches.

This was a magical touch from writer, Pat Mills, wherein he still could engineer great empathy with a brand new character "Weeper" who was named for his continual tears that were a result from a previous gas attack in the trenches. From his former carnival days, Weeper had the ability to throw his voice, as in ventriloquism and which ultimately led him to the mercy of the aforementioned "The Beast", and also had the gift for escapology that proved invaluable for his and Charley's escape when the "Hun" reappeared to remind the reader that a war was still ongoing.

Another heart-breaking sub-plot, during these issues, resulted in Charley's commanding officer - Lieutenant Thomas - being shot for desertion of duty when he ordered the retreat of his men from annihilation. Charley was actually selected as a member of the firing squad before renouncing his duty when he realized who he was supposed to shoot. In a typical traditional comic, Lieutenant Thomas would have somehow escaped the firing squad. In Charley's War, he was executed by his own men and would leave Charley's unit under the command of Schnell who was an egotistical, ruthless officer and had no regard for the welfare of his men: cue plenty of conflict for the future.

Essentially, within this horrendous period of warfare, Charley's War epitomised what this strip was all about - a tragic, anti-war theme that pitted the unfortunate soldier against a glorified establishment that was prepared to win at all cost, no matter how many lives were taken. With hindsight, the reader of the time may have been considering: stow the war, let's have more of Charley's internal strife away from the frontline. Fanciful thinking, perhaps. But Pat Mills knew that he would have to send his most famed protagonist back to the trenches because... a war was still ongoing - win or lose, it still had to be fought. The establishment had dictated so, and the readers always wanted action. However, for a short time, Mills hoodwinked them all with a mastery stroke that, in time, would garner an unforgettable legacy. He actually distracted the reader from the war and for him/her to engage with the despairing humanity of it all that bucked its pointless tragedy.


21 Jan 2018, 02:43
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Joined: 10 Jul 2017, 15:29
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Location: Leicester
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geoff42 wrote:
The intricacies of Charley's War pivoted a narrative on comics that was all but an alien process back in 1979. Not even 2000 AD, at this juncture, had yielded such a complex, ongoing series. After a long stint during the Battle of the Somme, Charley and the rest of his unit retired from the front for rest and recuperation that lasted for six issues. Of course, during this time, there was plenty of conflict - namely with the police Sergeant Bacon, aka "The Beast" who enjoyed subjecting soldiers to harsh disciplinary measures in his "Field Punishment" where the unfortunate victim would be staked out on a wooden wheel. Yet, pushing aside the internal strife that was necessary to maintain a reader's interest, there resided an underlying sub-text with regard to how the soldiers spent their time away from the trenches.

This was a magical touch from writer, Pat Mills, wherein he still could engineer great empathy with a brand new character "Weeper" who was named for his continual tears that were a result from a previous gas attack in the trenches. From his former carnival days, Weeper had the ability to throw his voice, as in ventriloquism and which ultimately led him to the mercy of the aforementioned "The Beast", and also had the gift for escapology that proved invaluable for his and Charley's escape when the "Hun" reappeared to remind the reader that a war was still ongoing.

Another heart-breaking sub-plot, during these issues, resulted in Charley's commanding officer - Lieutenant Thomas - being shot for desertion of duty when he ordered the retreat of his men from annihilation. Charley was actually selected as a member of the firing squad before renouncing his duty when he realized who he was supposed to shoot. In a typical traditional comic, Lieutenant Thomas would have somehow escaped the firing squad. In Charley's War, he was executed by his own men and would leave Charley's unit under the command of Schnell who was an egotistical, ruthless officer and had no regard for the welfare of his men: cue plenty of conflict for the future.

Essentially, within this horrendous period of warfare, Charley's War epitomised what this strip was all about - a tragic, anti-war theme that pitted the unfortunate soldier against a glorified establishment that was prepared to win at all cost, no matter how many lives were taken. With hindsight, the reader of the time may have been considering: stow the war, let's have more of Charley's internal strife away from the frontline. Fanciful thinking, perhaps. But Pat Mills knew that he would have to send his most famed protagonist back to the trenches because... a war was still ongoing - win or lose, it still had to be fought. The establishment had dictated so, and the readers always wanted action. However, for a short time, Mills hoodwinked them all with a mastery stroke that, in time, would garner an unforgettable legacy. He actually distracted the reader from the war and for him/her to engage with the despairing humanity of it all that bucked its pointless tragedy.


I love this point in the story. Up to this point the story how ever graphic still had the edge of a gung ho yarn with and bit of reality spaced here and there sometimes for comic value. The shooting of lieutenant Thomas and Charley getting field punishment for refusing to shoot his own officer was a brilliant bit of writing.
From this point in the story you started to care more about the cast and and what they are going through rather the the war.
The only comic I can think of now that does this would be The Walking Dead where as it started out all about the Zombies but is now mainly all about the lives of the cast with a few zombies sprinkled in.


22 Jan 2018, 16:39
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Joined: 18 Apr 2014, 00:48
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Charley and Ginger were brought back to the trenches after a deserved rest from the Somme. Poor old Weeper was left blinded and bound for the medic base on a truck, bidding his colleagues a bitter-sweet farewell. Charley and Ginger went on to meet an old friend "Smith 70" who inadvertently drove one of the new tanks through a French farmhouse. Such black humour preceded a tragedy that was far from expected. On arriving to the new trench, Charley witnessed the sudden death of his friend, Ginger - blown to bits from a shell. Such a death impacted with an unnerving realization: even the lucky talisman wasn't spared a grim death. Up to this point, Ginger had, despite his perennial pessimism, always escaped many a strife. Ginger was primed as a character who would walk out of a blazing fire without a singe. And then, with hindsight, he would lament on something that was inconsequential - even to the extent that he would berate on a singed uniform.

After this shocking occurrence, the reader must have been left thinking: "This shouldn't happen!" In Charley's War, it did. Ginger was a sarcastic, cynical foil to Charley's heroism and, at the same time, he provided an everyman's viewpoint on war that far more outpointed Charley's naivety. To kill such a pivotal character was certainly a brave decision for Pat Mills (the writer); the death would have told the reader that in no uncertain terms that the trenches favoured no man. Charley's War extended well beyond Gingers death but, and this is a testament to Mill's writing, the strip still endured. Charley would fight on for many more episodes without his dear friend wherein war was unforgiveable in its nature and, for better or for worse, Mills protracted the pain and drama for his endearing protagonist. In the end, Ginger was dispensable.


07 Feb 2018, 00:21
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Joined: 23 Aug 2012, 10:41
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Does anyone have the issue numbers and dates for “The Nightmare” please? It ran in Battle 1985.


19 Mar 2018, 22:53
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Joined: 18 Apr 2014, 00:48
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Hi, Tammyfan, "The Nightmare" began in the January 19th 1985 issue and ended in October 11th 1986. Very few Battle issues were actually numbered, so the above dates is your only available reference for the series. Hope this helps.


20 Mar 2018, 08:22
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Joined: 23 Aug 2012, 10:41
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geoff42 wrote:
Hi, Tammyfan, "The Nightmare" began in the January 19th 1985 issue and ended in October 11th 1986. Very few Battle issues were actually numbered, so the above dates is your only available reference for the series. Hope this helps.

Thank you, Geoff.


20 Mar 2018, 19:47
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