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WAR STORIES: Vol. 1 & Vol. 2

warstories-vol-1By Ellen Ma
Staff Writer

REVIEW
Garth Ennis brings you this series that consists of eight standalone short stories taken place during World War II, with one set in the Spanish Civil War. Although Ennis is the main writer, each story is taken on by a different artist.

The unique quality about this series is the different perspectives of each short story, which may be one of the reasons as to why there are so many artists. The reader is taken from a story about German tankers to a British officer assigned to an Italian campaign, to American soldiers, and so forth. Overall, this series really shows, both visually and verbally, the horrors of war, the experiences of all these different men, as well as camaraderie and humanity.

AGE RECOMMENDATION
11th grade and up.

BE AWARE
Use of inappropriate language. However, given the explanation that this series is set during war time, the language would seem fitting.

IN THE CLASSROOM
The one thing I praise most about Ennis is his ability to write dialect. He really brings his characters to life through this writing technique and although students may struggle first with becoming familiar to a Scottish or British speech pattern, the enjoyable part would be to read aloud.
The content of each story is quite heavy, as all of it is presented through the experiences of men during war. However, there are a plethora of topics to choose from –– humanity, equality, camaraderie, morality –– that can turn into fruitful discussions within the classroom.

War stories definitely take on a different flavor when presented in both image and text. I would be interested to have students read a text-based war story then compare to one of these short stories. The idea would be to have students analyze what they visualize as they read the text-based, then examine the visuals already given to them in the comic. What stood out the most to the student as they read? How can text alone become just as powerful or more powerful when compared to the pairing of text and image?

MY RECOMMENDATION
I would recommend WAR STORIES to teachers who are interested in having students examine the written word and visuals. My first thought was comparing HEART OF DARKNESS to any one of the short stories within the graphic novel and have students determine how both, text-based and image/text pairing, are able to convey a heavy topic like war.

OTHER INFORMATION
Author & Illustrators: Garth Ennis, Chris Weston, John Higgins, Dave Gibbons, David Lloyd, Cam Kennedy, Carlos Ezquerra, Gary Erskine
Publisher: Vertigo
Format: Paperback
Pages Vol. 1: 240
Pages Vol. 2: 240
Color: Full color
ISBN-10 Vol. 1: 1-84023-912-3
ISBN-10 Vol. 2: 1-4012-1039-2