As a fan of war movies, even before I joined the military, it is quite confounding how much movies get it right. One of the best examples of recent times was the much-acclaimed Greyhound, which had me “triggered” in some sequences. The difference between what I saw before I joined and what I saw after I joined is, was astounding. For some of those movies, I re-watched and felt like an internet troll pointing out the inaccuracies in the different depictions.
One of the movies that felt so real, even though I was not in that conflict, was Saving Private Ryan. The movie depicted how real it is when you are in combat, as every step may be your last. This included the final standoff between our main cast and a tank. In Garth Ennis and Carlos Ezquerra’s pulse-pounding The Tankies, we see the drama from within that ‘steal beast”, as we find out how it is for a tank crew who goes from one battle to the next.
In the opening story of The Tankies, we’re taken to World War II shortly right before the Battle of Normandy, where the British and Canadians were making their way through German territory, as we find the British Army’s Royal Tank Regiment as one of the tank units, Baker Troop, a fairly nascent group of soldiers, who suddenly loses its commanding officer, Archie Wingate to enemy fire and gets them a new CO, Sergeant Stiles. They would go to survive a fight with a German Tank unit, eventually catching up with the rest of the regiment, as they come soon to understand war, is an endurance race.
In the second chapter, “Yeomen of England”, Baker Troop meets the Northshires Company, which has been mostly decimated by the Germans, where both survive a German infantry standoff but not without a crucial casualty.
In the third chapter,” To The Greenfields and Beyond”, Baker’s troop faces off against a German Tiger Tank, destroying their cannon, leaving its unit to flee and for the Northshires to capture a German infantry.
In the fourth chapter, “Welcome to the Fatherland”, we are then transported to West Germany February 1945, and Baker troop stumbles upon an American Sherman Tank Unit who has just been annihilated by a German Panther tank infantry, as Sergeant Stiles soon realizes it’s the same unit they have been tracking since he got assigned to Baker Troop.
In the fifth chapter,” Soldiers of the Reich”, Baker’s troop faces off a German regiment and finds out firsthand just how hardened German soldiers really are.
In the sixth chapter, ”Kingdom Of Dust”, we finally see the toll the war has taken on the civilians left defenseless, and a final faceoff with the German Panther tank infantry leaves Baker Troop victorious but wounded.
In the seventh chapter, ”Now Thrive The Armourers”, we catch back up with Baker Troop, now the 29th Brigade, as they are now in the Korean War, as they happen to go on night patrol and find a whole Chinese platoon, which they take down with suppression fire, while aided by a squadron of Royal Commandos.
In the eighth chapter, “God for Harry, England, and Saint George”, we find the guys undermanned and running low on supplies, as they face off against thousands of Chinese soldiers, as their own saving grace is USAF bombers dropping Napalm.
By book’s end, the final chapter, “Death Ride”, where a final face-off takes place in the Valley Of the Dragon, between Allied forces and China, as the 29th Regiment forges forward victoriously one final time.
Overall, The Tankies is a book that reminds me of one of my favorite war movies A Bridge Too Far. It earnestly gives an affecting portrait of military combat, unvarnished and unfiltered. The story by Ennis is masterful, moving, and pulse-pounding. The art by the great Carlos Ezquerra belongs in a museum and the reader gets a treat from the publisher in this collected edition, giving us his sketchbook for this wonderful story. Altogether, The Tankies is a comic collection that delivers a great story and reminds readers of the sacrifice so many veterans have given for a peaceful way of life.
Story: Garth Ennis Art: Carlos Ezquerra
Ink: Hector Ezquerra Color: Tony Avina Letterer: Simon Bowland
Story: 10 Art: 10 Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy
Purchase: Amazon – TFAW – Bookshop