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Review: Four-Fisted Tales: Animals in Combat

Learn the history of animals in combat and the military in this graphic novel that’s entertaining and educational.

Story: Ben Towle
Art: Ben Towle

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Review: Four-Fisted Tales: Animals in Combat

Four Fisted Tales: Animals In Combat

Animals have been part of the human experience for tens of thousands of years. If you look around someone you know owns an animal or you may even see animals as strays in your neighborhood. We all are participants in the experience of living, humans and animals alike. The criminally under watched Warhorse details the connection between a young man gone off to war and the horse from his farm, who would see war on the frontlines as well. It made me wonder then, how often something like this has happened?

There are stories of people and animals that became turning points in different conflict all throughout the world and many of them have never been told. Ben Towle in his new book for Dead Reckoning, Four-Fisted Tales: Animals In Combat, seeks to change that narrative by introducing readers to four animals who fought as bravely as their human counterparts.

In the first tale, we find the Harlem Hellfighters camped in Argonne during WWI, finding a momentary distraction in the simplicity of glow worms. In the second tale” Jack”, we get a story about dog who fought along Union soldiers during the Civil War and was captured twice before being traded for a human Confederate soldier. In “Ships Cats”, we get a concise history of the ship’s cats of the Royal Navy, which is surprisingly is long and distinguished. In “Dolphins”, we find out about the little known secret program that the US Navy had for dolphins, using them to carry out covert missions. In “Mascots”, we find out about instances through modern warfare where animals were used as symbols of intense pride. In “Satan”, we find out how one dog not only carried messages but saved a whole infantry in France. In “Seagulls”, we find out how the Royal Navy used seagulls to find German submarines.  In “Mine Detecting Rats”, we find out the Vietnamese use pouched rats to seek out landmines from the Vietnam War, which still kill inhabitants to this day. In “Wojtek”, we find out how one Syrian Brown Bear kept a Polish infantry safe and from attacks in Iraq. In “Slugs”, we find out how scientist used slugs to detect mustard gas before troop movement.  In “Horses”, we get the prolific history of these majestic beasts which stretches back more than 5,000 years. In the final chapter “Carrier Pigeons”, we find out about the storied use of these animals dating back to Julius Caesar to even the Gulf War, proving their indispensability.

Overall, Four-Fisted Tales: Animals In Combat is a great graphic novel which shows how integral animals are to the war effort. The stories by Towel, is well researched, enthralling and heartfelt. The art by Towle is beautiful. Altogether, a book that will not only enlighten readers but will make you wonder why these stories have not seen the light of day until now.

Story: Ben Towle Art: Ben Towle
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy

Dead Reckoning provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Purchase: AmazonKindleBookshop

Dead Reckoning Announces Its Fall 2021 Releases

Dead Reckoning will bring you three new graphic novels in Fall 2021. First up is Four-Fisted Tales by four-time Eisner-nominated cartoonist Ben Towle, which tells the story of how animals have been used to fight in the trenches, jungles, and deserts of the world’s battlefields. Next, The Jewish Brigade by Marvano follows how the Jewish Infantry Brigade Group came to fight against and hunt down Nazis who sought to murder them and their families. Last, but not least, James D. Hornfischer along with Doug Murray and Steven Sanders bring The Last Stand of The Tin Can Sailors. Outgunned and outnumbered, The Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors brings to life the New York Times bestseller on the Battle off Samar where a small American task force fought to turn back an overwhelming Japanese force at Leyte Gulf.

Four-Fisted Tales: Animals in Combat

By Ben Towle
978-1-68247-416-7 | August 18, 2021
Paperback | $24.95

In virtually every military conflict in recorded history animals have fought—and often died—alongside their human counterparts. While countless stories of the men and women who’ve served in the trenches, jungles, and deserts of the world’s battlefields have been told, Four-Fisted Tales: Animals in Combat shares the stories of the animals who fought alongside them.

From Hannibal’s elephants in ancient Rome to mine-sniffing rats in Vietnam and everything in between, Four-Fisted Tales highlights the real-life contributions of these underappreciated animal warriors. Whether in active combat or simply as companions, these animals served and made their mark on history.

Ben Towle is a four-time Eisner-nominated cartoonist. His previous works include Oyster WarAmelia Earhart: This Broad Ocean (with Sarah Stewart Taylor), which received accolades from The New York Times and Publishers Weekly and was a Junior Library Guild selection; Midnight Sun; and Farewell, Georgia.

Four-Fisted Tales: Animals in Combat

The Jewish Brigade

By Marvano
978-1-68247-723-6 | September 15, 2021
Paperback | $24.95

In the waning years of World War II, as the tragic plight of the European Jews was coming to light in ever more horrific detail, a Jewish fighting force, known as the Jewish Infantry Brigade Group, was born as part of the British Eighth Army. Leslie Toliver, a racecar driver in the pre-war years, eagerly joined the all-volunteer force for a chance to fight with his people against those who sought to murder them. 

Born in Belgium, Marvano, started out as an interior designer. Years later, he began an alternate career as an illustrator, eventually becoming editor-in-chief of the magazine Kuifje, then managing the comics department of Flemish publisher Den Gulden Engel. All the while he published his own comics and went on to write and illustrate dozens of graphic novels over decades, most notably adapting Joe Halderman’s famous novel The Forever War.

The Jewish Brigade

The Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors: The Extraordinary World War II Story of the U.S. Navy’s Finest Hour

By James D. Hornfischer; Adapted by Doug Murray; Drawn by Steven Sanders; Colored by Matt Soffe; Lettered by Rob Steen
978-1-68247-338-2 | October 20, 2021
Hardcover | $29.95

Adapted from the naval history classic and New York Times bestseller, The Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors pieces together the action of the Battle off Samar, bringing to life a riveting story of heroism against daunting odds, duty, and sacrifice in a way never seen before.

James D. Hornfischer’s gripping account of the battle, based on declassified documents as well as extensive interviews with veterans, is acclaimed as one of the most compelling works of naval history ever published. Hornfischer’s awards include the 2018 Samuel Eliot Morison Award, given by the Board of Trustees of the USS Constitution Museum.

Doug Murray is a comic book writer and novelist. He served as a non-commissioned officer in the Army in Vietnam and was the main writer on the popular comic book series The ‘Nam, published by Marvel Comics.

Steven Sanders is an illustrator. His work has appeared in the distinguished SPECTRUM anthology and has drawn a number of comics for Marvel and Image Comics.

The Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors: The Extraordinary World War II Story of the U.S. Navy's Finest Hour

Oni Press Announces Oyster War

Oni Press announced today Oyster War, a colorful, comedic historical graphic novel by three time Eisner-nominated cartoonist Ben Towle. Oyster War will release on September 23rd, and will be an SPX debut.

In the coastal town of Blood’s Haven, the economy runs on oysters. Oyster farming is one of the most lucrative professions, but also the most dangerous. Not just from the unforgiving ocean and its watery depths—there are also oyster pirates to worry about! Commander Davidson Bulloch and his motley crew are tasked with capturing these ne’er-do-wells—but they don’t know that Treacher Fink, the pirates’ leader, possesses a magical artifact that can call forth a legendary spirit with the power to control the sea and everything in it!

In a release, Ben Towle said:

I started work on Oyster War five years ago with a very specific vision. I’d done several historical fiction books previously and now I wanted to jump squarely into the realm of the fantastic. Oyster War is a nautical adventure story set in a not-quite-real late 19th century US that’s full of pirates, brawlers, sea serpents, and shape-shifters. It’s far and away my favorite work to-date. I couldn’t be happier with the way Oni’s bringing the Oyster War print collection to life. Presentation was always in the back of my mind as I worked on the story. From the get-go I conceived of Oyster War as a big, hardcover, European album-sized book with high-end production values—and that’s exactly what’s going to wind up in readers’ hands!

Oyster War

Oni Press to Announce Seven New Series

Oni Press revealed today their plans to announce several new titles and company news items over this coming week. These will be revealed in a March Madness-themed event starting Thursday, March 19th. Today they also announced the promotion of key staff in anticipation of the announcement.

The titles announced will feature well-known creators Marc Guggenheim, Christos & Ruth Gage, Cullen Bunn, Jen Van Meter, Drew Moss, Nick Filardi, Justin Greenwood, Meredith McClaren, Ben Towle, Scott Kowalchuk, Dennis Culver, Christopher Sebela, Ryan Hill, Rashad Doucet, and Matt Gardner.

Oni Press March Madness

Preview: Panels for Primates

Panels for Primates

Writers: Stuart Moore, David Petersen, Jason McNamara, Gareth Gaudin, James Vining, Fred Van Lente, Colin Upton, Rich Tommaso, Faith Erin Hicks, Tara Abbamondi, Michael May, Kevin Church, Ben Towle, Mark Shainblum, Toren Atkinson, Roger Stern, Mike Carey, Stan Lee, Jamie Delano, Jeffrey Burandt, Paul Kupperberg, Douglas Rushkoff
Artists: Simon Roy, Rick Geary, David Petersen, Rahsan Ekedal, Gareth Gaudin, James Vining, Colleen Coover, Colin Upton, Rich Tommaso, Faith Erin Hicks, Tara Abbamondi, Max Riffner, Ben Towle, Toren Atkinson, Caleb Hystad, Carla Speed McNeil, Dean Haspiel, Adam Domville, Gideon Kendall, Simon Fraser, Jeff Lemire, Richard Case, Aaron Florian, John Byrne, Molly Crabapple
Letter: Ryan Ferrier, Jeff Leblanc
Price: $9.99
Pages: 81
Rating: 15+

PANELS FOR PRIMATES is a charity anthology of primate-themed comics, prose, and illustration, with contributions from veteran creators and talented newcomers alike, assembled by Troy Wilson. Proceeds from this anthology go to benefit the Primate Rescue Center in Nicholasville, KY, a nationally respected sanctuary housing more than 50 primates, including 11 chimpanzees. The organization’s work has been featured in the award-winning book Animal Underworld, by investigative journalist Alan Green and the Center for Public Integrity, in the magazine Animals’ Agenda (now Animals and Society Institute), on television and in newspapers nationwide.