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The Battling Bastards of Bataan

The Battling Bastards of Bataan

Jay Wertz for World War II Comix
ARRSE Rating
2 Mushroom Heads
The main part of this short book is a brief comic-strip account of the fighting retreat from contact of the US and Philippine Armies to eventual surrender in Bataan and Corregidor. Wertz appears coherently and correctly to summarise the action (which included the last cavalry charge in US Army history), in fifty word bites attached to usually relevant illustrations (NB p.2 has 'principle' for 'principal' and on p.73 'fuselage' is misspelt).

The artwork of the illustrations however is dire. The depictions are wooden with zero sense of action or movement. The little style they have is that of storyboard sketches for further development. Neither Japanese nor US helmets are got right and the B17 on p.3 is unrecognisable as such or any other type. Some of the illustrations are maps, well done in their way, but many places mentioned in the text are not shown.

The intention appears to be to provide a teaching aid to US sub-teenagers which may be why, perhaps to spare juvenile sensitivities, the eventual fate of the US survivors is consigned to a single sentence and not further described. It is still a deficiency that there is no final total for US and Philippine military casualties killed, missing or PoW nor any figure for what proportion of those who surrendered survived the war.

The book closes with a completely separate story, 'Separated by War', the shooting down by the Japanese of an American civilian Boeing Clipper which was evacuating civilians including females - a nurse, a teacher, a nun - from Guam, and their survival on Jaluit in the Marshalls (at the time a Japanese mandate following WW1). The survivors are bounced by a Japanese patrol but we are not told their eventual fate - again, the punch is pulled. It's short - title and 3 pages - but the artwork, by a different artist, is streets head of that of the other story, somewhere between 'Dan Dare' (for elderly Brits) and 'Terry and the Pirates' (for elderly Yanks), as is that of a third artist on the front cover.

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