The next two specials I’m looking at are Battle of Britain Special and Misty & Scream. Firstly the Battle special is a sizeable book at 100 pages, and it is packed with great art and stories, that I appreciate on an objective level. On a more personal preference there are other specials that I would have preferred to get the 100 page treatment. While I can enjoy the occasional war story, my interests aren’t in having a whole book of them, if I hadn’t purchased the specials bundle, I probably wouldn’t have picked it up. This is still an impressive book with 10 new stories and 3 reprints. The Highlights for me were: Face of the Enemy, Destroyer, Rat Pack. I also welcomed some light relief with The Young Cockney Commandos with art by Tom Paterson and on the opposite side I can appreciate the message of War Child, (although taking the whole book as a whole it does lead to some mixed messaging), Of the reprints Double Hero is nice addition to highlight some Ian Kennedy work which is always welcome.
Face of the Enemy (Writer: Alan Grant, Art: Davide Fabbri, Colours: Domenico Neziti) is my favourite as an old man visits a school, to tell the class his experience as a young boy seeing planes fighting overhead during the Battle of Britain. When a German plane is shot down he runs to it despite having heard what “monsters” the Germans were, what he finds is a dying German man wishing for his family. It has nice art, with some impressive fighting scenes and I do like a story that shows there are humans on both sides of war. Destroyer (Writer; Rob Williams, Art: PJ Holden) a story narrated by a young seaman, Joe Owen, about his time on the ship that had earned the name “jinxtown”, but despitethe nickname the ship would still have an important role to play in the war. Rat Pack – The Tough Way (Writer: Garth Ennis, Art: Keith Burns) has a touch of humour, as the team make fun of the General they just rescued, the mission is recounted at a complaints hearing.
Misty & Scream is definitely more to my interest and that we are getting extra Misty content this year is a definite bonus. There are 6 stories here, it gets off to a strong start with Thief of Senses (Writer: Maura McHugh, Art: Robin Henley), set in Victorian London where a family fear something that stalks in the night. It’s a very creepy story, and use of dark colours sets up a good atmosphere. I also enjoyed The Aegis (Writer: Kristyna Baczynski, Art: Mary Safro) a more modern story focused on rivalry within a school play. The title of the play Medusa: The Musical, foretelling the characters’ fates. Safro’s art reminds me of Darwyn Cooke, with it’s simple cartoon like style, and works great with this story. Bumps in the Night (Writer: Olivia Hicks, Art: John Lucas) is a creepy clown story, not my favourite in the book, but sure to give anyone with a clown phobia some nightmares!
The second half of the book are all returning stories, if there is supposed to be a distinctive split in the layout, these would be deemed the Scream! stories and as Misty takes first place in the title this year it would make sense for her stories to come first. We have the return of Black Beth (Writer: Alec Worley, Art: DaNi) , which is my favourite art in the book, just gorgeous work by DaNi. Then there is Return of Black Max (Writer: Kek-W, Art: Simon Coleby) probably bottom of my list (guess someone has to be), not too bad a story but felt I probably should have reread the previous installment first. Which can be problem with continuing stories in these specials being so far apart. Although I somehow didn’t have that issue with the aforementioned Black Beth or with The Dracula File (Writer: Cavan Scott, Art: Vincenzo Riccardi) which felt it stood more on it’s own without knowing the background. It is a satisfying conclusion to the original 1970s story, and much better than the first revival (in the 2017 special). Even with the story concluded I would say there is still room to go back and fill in the gaps, if they so wished but left as is, it does its job of showing final fates of Dracula and Stakis.
If it’s similar to this content I look forward to more Misty stories later this year!