Last week, I read Glory Vol. 1, which was an excellent, excellent Wonder Woman story. It wasn’t the story of a mamby-pamby boo-hoo girly heroine. Oh no, it was the story of one mean woman whom you believed would kick Superman’s… butt. Anyway, it was such a good superhero story that I was afraid to read any other superhero stuff. So this week I read OPERATION BROKEN WINGS, 1936, written by Herik Hanna, illustrated by Trevor Hairsine, published by Boom! Studios.
In Broken Wings our never-named protagonist is an SS spy/assassin trying to get out of the “business” in 1936. The only problem is he can’t leave without money, and lots of it. And so begins a very devious gambit that will either make our man rich… or get him killed.
In case you haven’t noticed, I rarely review war books. Why? Well, war books bore me. I don’t need that level of reality in my comic books. Which begs the obvious question: why did I read this? Well, this isn’t a war story at all. Oh no, this is very much a heist novel and wow, was it good. The story is tight. The story is compact. It’s a page turner that’s hard to put down. Hanna immediately drops you into the action and never lets you catch your breath. His characterization is crisp and sharp, and even though you can recognize the character arch-types, it just adds to the excitement.
The art is equally as good. Hairsine appeared years ago on the American comics scene and never quite lived up to the hype. This book will show you why he was so special. The art is like a slightly scratchy, or rougher, Bryan Hitch.
The only thing which may give you pause is the page/price point. But, this is a very dense, complex story in which there is more going on per page, per panel than any other book. In the words of Hairsine himself, "the pages are frame heavy and actively steer away from splash panels and decompressed storytelling with an emphasis on detailed backgrounds – i.e. the polar opposite of US books." Hairsine is repeating what I’ve already said! There isn’t a wasted page. There isn’t an empty panel. This book is a labor of love for Hairsine and it shows. He wanted to try something new and test his abilities as an artist and he succeeded with flying colors.
Broken Wings is a gritty crime novel in which you know it’s going to end bad because these tales always end badly. It’s an action packed movie with tough guys that aren’t afraid of dealing or facing death. It’s a tight comic book that is so full of detail and energy that you won’t be able to put it down. If you’ve ever wondered how European books and story telling differ from American books or you just want to be entertained, then this is the book for you.
- David Lee