Advance Review: Battle Stations

A classic collection from the War Picture Library and reprinted by Rebellion – out on the 20th February in print and digitally

  • CREATIVE TEAM: Donne Avenell (w) Hugo Pratt (a)
  • RELEASE DATE: 20 February 2020
  • HARDCOVER, 65 pages
  • PRICE: £14.99 (UK) $19.99 (US)
  • ISBN: 9781781087527
  • DIAMOND: DEC191839

Hugo Pratt is one of the greatest comics artists of all time. The Italian master’s distinctive lines and storytelling finesse made him a legend, and yet his work on British war comics has largely been forgotten. No longer. Here, restored and presented in a stunning new edition, is Battle Stations – a tale of stark terror and war at sea that first appeared in War Picture Library in 1963. It follows three survivors of a Nazi naval attack as they seek their revenge on a deadly U-Boat – no matter the cost. Brutal, bloody and grimly heroic, Battle Stations could only be the work of the maestro himself, and marks the beginning of the Treasury of British Comics’ mission to return Pratt’s magnificent UK work to print.

From the War Picture Library by Hugo Pratt and Donnie Avenell, this was originally collected in digest format. This has been collected by Rebellion and is available in print and digitally.

I’ve only read a few digest comics, most were the Beano and Dandy ones, but I did occasionally pick up some of the digest we comics too. What I noticed then, and I see now is how raw they are. There’s no glorification of war in these comics and it gives some real reactions that I have recognized from relatives.

Battle Stations is the story of three British sailors caught up in the war in the Atlantic, their ship is sunk and the survivors are killed afterwards. The only three left are scared by what they experienced. This hits them all in different ways and that leads to their eventual fates. There is some real gritty realism here, with the scenes below deck as well as out in the open! It’s tight below deck and the scenes out at sea are the same as my uncle described! I like the way that the story moves through the events. The three survivors do seem to have a run of bad luck (although there is some good luck too!) The ongoing monologue is well done, it’s a method not often used like this and it’s quite refreshing and well used here.

I enjoy the art – is gritty but still well done, even the tight spaces aren’t too claustrophobic to read, and some really good battle scenes as well as the ships themselves.

An excellent read!

Available in digital from: Treasury of British Comics webshop & apps for iPadAndroid and Windows 10

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