Garth Ennis has carved out his own little niche of war comics, delivering interesting and engaging stories that aren’t afraid to center on harsh truths or transcend accepted perceptions of the parties involved. They’re usually quite good and even the lesser ones, like “The Tankies,” are still highly entertaining.
“The Tankies” explores a misconception that many might have about tanks in the Second World War: that they were, somehow, invincible killing machines. While tanks changed the landscape of war and were incredibly powerful weapons, like everything else in war that, by no means, meant that the men inside the tank were safe from harm. Ennis centers here in British squadrons, one that is dealing with Germans tanks that are more advanced than the standard British unit and, another, that’s nearly wiped out because of the lack of tank support. As a Colonel says, “So the long and the short of it is that no one knows where anyone else is. We’ve got the makings of a perfect shambles here.”
Ennis seems to be exploring the full possibilities of how tanks are just as flawed and, sometimes, useless in war as planes or machine guns. When a new piece of technology is invented, it’s not long before it becomes obsolete thanks to advances, as displayed here by the Germans’ tanks, which outclass those of the British. However, the British have developed a more powerful tank that acts as a sniper, of sorts, giving them the upper hand in some cases.
Ennis peppers the comic with colorful characters and funny accents, none of whom are terribly original, but Ennis has a way of making even the most clichéd of characters come alive and distinguish themselves. That said, there aren’t many characters here that really stand out, making this book seem more like an exercise in highlighting how tanks were really used in war which, while interesting, doesn’t necessarily carry the story by itself.
Carlos Ezquerra’s art here is cleaner and more refined than I’ve seen elsewhere. It still has his trademark roughness, particularly with the wounded and dead soldiers, like on the double-page spread early in the issue. Like most longtime collaborators with Ennis, he matches and accentuates Ennis’ writing, working almost perfectly in sync with him. He doesn’t quite have the visual comic ability in some spots to give Ennis’ jokes the push they need, though.
“The Tankies” may be on the lower end of Ennis’ war comics, but it’s still a good, entertaining read. The subject of tanks in war isn’t one often explored and Ennis demonstrates that tanks can lead to as many mistakes and horrible situations as anything else.