Rebellion has revealed plans for a 96-page hardcover Battle Action Special featuring eight new stories, all written by Garth Ennis (The Boys, Preacher), with a cover from Andy Clarke (Batman and Robin) and Dylan Teague (Madi) – and interior art by Kevin O’Neill, Keith Burns, Mike Dorey, John Higgins, Chris Burnham, Patrick Goddard and PJ Holden, as well as colourists Jason Wordie, Len O’Grady and Sally Jane Hurst.
On sale from June, just like the 2020 Action Special, this all-new collection combines characters from controversial adventure weekly Action with some of the most popular characters of companion title Battle, the hardcover project’s format sounding more akin to a classic British annual than a graphic novel. Not that we’re complaining – it’s about time!
Included in the line up is a new Johnny Red story, with art by Keith Burns coloured by Jason Wordie, that will see the Battle air ace caught up in the air duel of the century as he faces off against Skreamer of the Stukas.
Keith Burns is of course no stranger to Johnny Red, having worked with Garth before on the Titan Comics mini series, collected in 2016.
In Battle, “Skreamer of the Stukas” was a fairly vicious serial centring on a psychotic Nazi pilot, Otto Skreamer, and a young British lad who swears revenge after his father is killed by Skreamer, while trying to protect a boatful of wounded Normandy evacuees.
Kevin O’Neill delivers his first comics work since the end of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, an artist whose entire style was once deemed wholly “objectionable” by the Puritans of the Comics Code Authority in America.
O’Neill is the artist on the revival of Kids Rule OK, writer Jack Adrian and artist Mike White’s series about kids running amok in a post-apocalyptic landscape – the strip whose content that did more than most to seeing Action being pulled from shelves.
Infamous German tank commander Hellman of Hammer Force is also back in action, bearing down on American Colonel Glory Rider in Tunisia, drawn by the legendary Mike Dorey, who has drawn Hellman in the original Battle and for the 2020 Action Special. Mike teased a page from the story last year, and it looks terrific, as ever.
“Glory Rider”, a cigar-chomping, whip cracking anti-hero, made his debut in what by then was Battle Action, in the 200th issue, in January 1979, co-created by 2000AD writer Gerry Finley-Day and artist Geoff Campion as part of a revamp of the comic.
Blunt instrument of British Intelligence Dredger, who first appeared in Action, returns, too, and takes no prisoners on the streets of 1980s London, drawn by Judge Dredd artist John Higgins, with co-colours by Sally Jane Hurst.
Selfish but fearless Crazy Keller will also feature, with art by Chris Burnham (Batman) and colours by Len O’Grady,
Nina Petrova, the “Angel of Death”, scourge of the Eastern Front, who first appeared in Battle in the “Johnny Red” strip, makes a solo outing in the Special, with art by Patrick Goddard (Judge Dredd) and colours by Jason Wordie.
Finally, we will get to see the return of The Sarge, a strip fondly remembered for art by Mike Western, as the hero roll out into Italy in the heat of 1944, Garth Ennis reunited with The Stringbags artist PJ Holden.
The Sarge Volume One is out on 12th May, collecting stories from Battle by Gerry Finley-Day (Writer) and Mike Western (Art)
• Battle Action Special by Garth Ennis et al goes on sale in June 2022 from before arriving in traditional book shops in September
The Sarge Volume One
By Gerry Finley-Day (Writer) and Mike Western (Art)
Out: 12th May 2022, Hardback, 144 Pages, £19.99
THEY DEPENDED ON THE SARGE. AND THE WORLD DEPENDED ON THEM.
British Sergeant Jim Masters, a veteran of WW1, has to protect and lead his inexperienced platoon during the Second World War.
From Dunkirk to North Africa, the might of the German Army face the ultimate adversaries when Masters and his boys spring into action – Nothing can substitute experience!
One of the most prolific writers in the comic’s history, Gerry Finley-Day holds a special place in many 2000 AD fans’ hearts as the creator of classics like Rogue Trooper, Fiends of the Eastern Front and The V.C.s, as well as Harry 20 on the High Rock and Ant Wars. A keen “ideas man”, Finley-Day’s concepts of the horrors future warfare had in store were key to both Rogue and The V.C.s’ continuing popularity, ensuring that their recent return to the Galaxy’s Greatest Comic was well-received. Finley-Day also scripted episodes of Judge Dredd and Dan Dare, and co-scripted much of Invasion! (and entirely scripted the prequel story, ‘Disaster 1990!’).
Widely regarded as one of the best artists to ever grace the British comic industry, Mike Western began his career on Knockout, having already spent time working for GB Animation. During the 1950s he shared art chores with Eric Bradbury on the popular western strip Lucky Logan. In 1960 he moved onto TV Express where he drew No Hiding Place and Biggles. Buster and Valiant followed where Mike found himself drawing long-running strips such as Wild Wonders. In the 1970s he was very prolific, illustrating Buster’s Leopard from Lime Street and several key strips for Battle, including Darkie’s Mob, The Sarge and HMS Nightshade. Mike made an impact on the iconic Roy of the Rovers, illustrating the newspaper strip which ran in the Daily Star during the 1990s.