Publisher: Aftershock Comics
Writer: Garth Ennis
Artist: Simon Coleby
Release date: 2nd March, 2016
History was never my strong point. I have a passing interest, and can differentiate your Victorians from your Edwardians, as well as a rough timeline of World War II (it ended when Cap was frozen in ice, right?). So it’s with no small amount of shame that I admit that I wasn’t fully aware of the story of the Tuskagee Airmen. My only familiarity with the story comes from having watched the incredibly rote Red Tails, which failed to spark any proper interest in the matter. Thanks for nothing, George Lucas. Sigh.
But Dreaming Eagles? This is something else. A historical, albeit fictionalised, retelling of the story of the first black airmen in the US Air Force, I can only say that I devoured all three issues in a single sitting, and was so eager for more that I’ve now spent an hour on t’Interwebs reading more about them. If that’s not the sign of a story well told, I really don’t know what is.
It’s the sheer authenticity of the series that really, truly grabs you by the lapels and draws you in. Coleby’s immaculate attention to period detail in the art work will have you poring over panels, picking out little details that stand out, beacon-like, from his trademark shadow-heavy inks. If there was a better person to draw this story, I’ll be betting on them being either dead or not born yet.
The book’s ultimate strength, however, is in its reverential recounting of a piece of cultural history. This could easily be shelved alongside the likes of Band of Brothers and Schindler’s List as pieces of work that properly demonstrate both the human and moral cost of large-scale conflict. Or at least, it’s a better rendition of the Tuskagee Airmen’s story than Red Tails was, never delving into cliché, and never afraid to pick apart the intentions of those inflicting the terrible working conditions on our heroes.
In line with Martin’s assessment of issues 1 and 2, I must insist that this is essential reading. An unyielding commentary on quite how awful war is, and how awful it is, in turn, for the people fighting for a country that can’t decide whether or not it values them. Action fans will find their thirst slaked, and they might well learn a thing or two as well – as I did, actively heading out and reading about the Tuskagee Airmen almost immediately after finishing my voyage through the series as it stands. I’m envisioning history buffs nodding in approval, despite the fictionalisation of the main players. But really, you’ve no real excuse not to pick this up.
The Writer of this piece was: Ross Sweeney
Ross tweets from @Rostopher24