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David Kendall (ed), 'The Mammoth Book of Best War Comics'
If the phrase “war comics” conjures up for you images of magazines with names like “Warlord” and “Commando”, and simple-minded celebrations of militarism and empire, then, please, just ignore the title.
Indeed, the first two selections in this wonderful collection - Keiji Nakazawa's “I Saw It!” (precursor to his epic account of the bombing of Hiroshima and its aftermath, Barefoot Gen) and Raymond Briggs' “The Tin Pot Foreign General and the Old Iron Woman” - are as anti-war a pair of comics as you are likely to find.
Other standouts, alongside the more conventional fare, include Tom Veitch's and Greg Iron's “The Legion of Charlies” (which springboards off parallels between the Manson killings and the My Lai massacre to reach surreal heights), Eric Drooker's “Casting Stones” (the Israel-Palestine conflict in 12 frames), and Archie Goodwin's and Joe Orlando's “Landscape”.
The latter - a rare mainstream comic dealing with non-combatants in the Vietnam war - was apparently deemed so controversial that the magazine in which it appeared was banned from Army Post news stands, speeding its collapse.
The perfect subversive gift for an army-obsessed teenage relative.