About Green’s Grudge War
Bringing the Second World War back to Action, “Green’s Grudge War” was a simple tale of jealousy with a spot of heroism and fighting thrown in. The format of each episode was pretty straight forward. Following a brief story recap in the big square box next to the title, a rather glib ‘One day the commandos were on a mission when…’ appeared. In fact, it was hard to find an episode that didn’t start like this. Each episode would usually unfold in this style:
“One day the commandos were on a mission when… Green disobeyed orders in an attempt to grab some glory. His acts of bravery went unobserved and, desperate to be noticed, he got in over his head. Bold arrived to save Green and was seen to do so by all their comrades, especially the top brass. Bold was commended, Green grumbled that no-one saw him take out a machine gun nest/ enemy ship/ strategic target single-handed, and then did something to sabotage Bold’s mission and make himself look better.
“On the verge of Green proving himself the better man, Bold, having overcome whatever obstacle Green had exposed him to, suddenly arrived to save Green and the troops from some peril he’d overlooked, thereby saving the mission and getting all the glory. Green would then swear to get even.”
“Green’s Grudge War” failed to score with readers. It was, in some ways, too traditional, each episode formulaic, making the overall story repetitive. The first time around I was genuinely shocked at Green’s death, re-reading it thirty years later, I thought the twisted, spiteful little git deserved it. Another often criticised point was Bellardinelli’s art. The majority believed his style was not in keeping with the story, but I disagree. The art was tight and clean and much of the detail work was spot on.
I find all Gerry Finley-Day’s writing to be cliché ridden, containing some awful prose. Tom Tully once described him as “the most re-written man in comics”, claiming that most of his work went through such heavy editing that it was almost entirely someone else’s work by the time it was printed, particularly true on “Rogue Trooper” and “The V.C.s” for 2000AD, some years later.
Conversely, Pat Mills rated Finley-Day as a brilliant ideas man and a solid writer. Despite these conflicting opinions, “Green’s Grudge War” was regularly found at the low end of the readers polls, and was not much missed.
Jimmy Green, (called Tom in the opening episode) from the Green Howards Regiment, and Guardsman John Bold are both new recruits to the Green Berets. Bold is obviously good at everything, and stands out straight away. Green believes himself to be the better man and sets out to prove it. In the early episodes, Green does indeed perform some selfless acts of heroism, saving Bold’s life on more than one occasion. The trouble is that Bold grabs all the attention, so Green’s deeds always go unnoticed, turning the rivalry into a bitter resentment from Green. This idea carried on throughout, with Green becoming more and more resentful towards the better man. Occasionally Green would come out on top, but there was always some pay off like the mission being top secret or some other ploy to stop Green’s glory.
At one stage, both men are captured by the Germans and face a death by firing squad. Green decides to come clean and tell Bold about his grudge, but too late. Bold is taken away and seemingly shot. As Green goes to meet his fate, he is rescued by the French Maquis and makes his escape. The whole mission was a set-up and Bold, still very much alive, takes all the glory. He asks Green what it was he was going to say back in the prison, but by now Green is seething so much, the moment has passed.
Eventually Green earns himself a stripe, having rescued his unit from a POW camp, and is determined to lord it over Bold, only to discover his rival has been promoted too. Bold is thick-skinned, if not just a bit thick. Even when Green tells him he hates him, Bold thinks his ‘friend’ is just kidding. As the story reaches its climax, Green has captured a German general and intends to bring him home for interrogation. Bold shoots and kills the officer who was trying to kill Green. Green hasn’t noticed this particular occurence. It is all to much for him and, back aboard the boat home, Green punches Bold in the face in front of the assembled officers. This earns him a court martial, and thirty days in the glass house.
Returning to the unit, Green decides to kill Bold for what he has been put through. On the next mission he recklessly endangers Bold’s life with some wild gunfire, then takes a German rifle and, from a hidden vantage point, shoots Bold in the head. Green’s subsequent actions save the unit, as he single-handedly lays down covering fire to aid their retreat, but out of ammo, he is forced to flee for the boats. As he wades out into the water, he freezes in surprise at the sight ahead. Bold is on the boat, wounded but very much alive. With no ammo left to cover him, Green is a sitting duck, and is gunned down by the advancing Germans. As his corpse is left floating in the waves, Bold laments his death, saying he deserves a medal for saving all their lives. He is told Green might get one, but it won’t do him any good now.
Green was a glory hunter, a brave and skilled soldier who under any normal circumstance would be the big fish in the pond. Unfortunately Green’s pond contained John Bold, brave, resourceful, gallant, modest, handsome, an all-round poster boy for the British Commandos. Green developed an irrational jealousy of Bold. Whatever Green achieved, Bold went one better and therefore took all the plaudits of the other men and most importantly to Green, the officers in charge. This jealousy turned to unrestrained hatred, and Green endangered himself and Bold to get the upper hand. Eventually it tipped Green over the edge, and he shot Bold in the head. Believing him dead, Green fled to his pick-up point. Arriving, the sight of Bold alive and well caused Green to freeze, leaving him a sitting duck for the German guns, which paid the grudge in full.
Bold was a former Guardsman who joined the Green Berets at the same time as Jimmy Green. Bold was a model soldier, if a bit thick, and incredibly thick skinned. Whatever Green threw at him, Bold brushed off. Insults meant nothing, sabotage to his equipment, betrayal and being left to die all bounced off of Bold. He believed Green his friend, and this stayed with him whatever the betrayal. Even after Green shot Bold in the head, he was none the wiser. As Green died, Bold hailed his ‘friend’ and recommended him for the medal he craved above all else. Unfortunately, it was too late for Green to appreciate it.
Text © Moose Harris
ACTION™ REBELLION PUBLISHING LTD, COPYRIGHT © REBELLION PUBLISHING LTD, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
See this section’s Acknowledgments section for more information