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Frantic as a cardiograph scratching out the lines, Day 265: Adventures in the Rifle Brigade #2

Every day this year, I will be examining the first pages of random comics. Today’s page is from Adventures in the Rifle Brigade #2, which was published by DC/Vertigo and is cover dated November 2000. This scan is from the trade paperback, which was published in 2004. Enjoy!

Nice gams

Adventures in the Rifle Brigade is a ridiculous comic (there were two three-issue mini-series in 2000 and 2001) that’s fun because it’s ridiculous. I mean, the second mini-series is about the search for Hitler’s testicle, so there’s that. Garth Ennis has always been an irreverant writer, and this comic shows that in spades. The best thing about it is that it’s short, so Ennis’ schtick doesn’t get too old. Just when you think it’s going to tip over and become stupid, it ends. It’s for the best! While it’s going on, though, it’s a lot of fun.

Carlos Ezquerra doesn’t have too much to do on this splash page, as Ennis simply wants to show all his principal characters. So we get an off-panel voice (it’s Greta Gasch, who is, like everyone else in this comic, an over-the-top stereotype) telling the reader the names of every main character, while Ezquerra just gets to draw them chained to a wall. He does a nice job with it – Crumb’s uniform is too small for him (the Rifle Brigade killed a bunch of Nazi soldiers and stole their uniforms to sneak around Berlin) and the Piper is suspended off the ground because he’s short – but it’s still not too exciting. The best of the page is Ezquerra’s facial expressions as the see who’s entering the room, as he does a very good job showing a lot of the personality of each character just through their reactions. Patricia Mulvihill, who colored the page, also doesn’t have much to do – this was really at the height of the “Vertigo coloring scheme” days, when browns and grays dominated, so of course she’s going to make the stolen Nazi uniforms even grayer than they might have been in reality, but notice the dark red blood stains on Geezer’s, the Piper’s, and Hank the Yank’s uniforms – they killed the soldiers who were wearing them, so of course they’re blood-stained, but the red is also quite muted, which is how a lot of Vertigo books were colored back then (they’ve gotten a bit better in the intervening years).

In addition to introducing us to the Rifle Brigade, Ennis gives them all their catch phrases – Darcy and Milk do most of the talking, so the rest of them simply say “Ey-Oop!” or “Yer aht of ordah!” or “Gawd Dammit!” a lot. As I noted above, everyone in this book is a stereotype, which is where the humor comes from. Ennis is letting any people who happened to miss issue #1 that, yes, this is what we can expect from this comic. As I also noted, it’s fine for the length of the series – before we can start to be annoyed by it, everything wraps up.

I should point out that I don’t know if “Definitely Not Cricket” looked the same in the original issue or if it was redone for the trade. Clem Robins is an old-school letterer, but I really hate that lettering of the title. It looks far too modern for something like this. It’s always the little things, isn’t it?

I don’t know if this page whets your appetite for more Rifle Brigade comics, but this first page does lay it out for you pretty well, even if it’s not the most exciting one around. It’s up to you to make up your mind about it!

As I mentioned yesterday, you only have a few more days to send me an e-mail (at gregorymburgas@gmail.com) with your own first page for me to write about in October. I’m pretty sure that I’ll be done with September in the next few days, and then I’m onto October! I have some very nice first pages, but I still have room for more!

Next: Another comic I haven’t actually read! Why do I keep randomly selecting these, confound it? There are a few others in the archives!

5 Comments

It looks to me like the title would’ve originally been across the bottom of the picture, with credits, and then the printing info would’ve been where the title is now. But I’ll check it when I get home, I still have that issue somewhere even though I upgraded to the trade (because nobody really cares, so it’s hardly even worth trying to sell).

sean: Good point. Thanks for checking!

I have both of these series, and they are of course, utterly and completely absurd. Also I laughed like an idiot while reading them.

Great stuff, even with the prerequisite “Oh, Milk is dying, and he wants Darcy to commit a gay act, except he’s not anywhere near mortally wounded!” moment in each issue. And yeah, the stories are soaked in absurdity . . . for instance, the Brigade pass themselves off as Nazis about as well as Brad Pitt passed as an Italian in Inglorious Basterds, yet that got nailed on account of Crumb’s patches being on the wrong way. Also, sweet parodies of Enemy Ace and Indiana Jones, an elephant doing the unthinkable with a jeep, and all sorts of other crap.

I keep meaning to ask . . . was there really a song titled “Hitler Only Has One Ball”? I keep pairing it off with some random college football fight music, because it syncs up well enough in my head.

I keep meaning to ask . . . was there really a song titled “Hitler Only Has One Ball”? I keep pairing it off with some random college football fight music, because it syncs up well enough in my head.

Yes, it’s sung to the tune of the ‘Colonel Bogey March’.

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