The Stringbags by Garth Ennis
Co-authored by PJ Holden, illustrated by Kathy Fitzpatrick and Rob Stein
I personally love World War II stories, so I enjoyed this story immensely. This book follows the trio of Pop, Ollie, and Archie, operators of a Swordfish biplane bomber that proved to be quite the thorn in the side of Adolf Hitler. The planes were so slow and obsolete that "modern" German and Italian forces couldn't battle against them. The trio become involved in three battles where the Stringbags were instrumental: the bombing of battleships at the Italian port of Taranto, the sinking of The Bismark, and the offensive known as the "Channel Dash."
Ennis' afterward was also extremely enlightening and enjoyable. In it, he explains his rationale for creating a fictional trio to represent these three separate events, and I appreciate that he did this to respect the historical figures who were actual present. However, at times two of the three gentlemen were interchangeable in my mind (Pop wasn't only because he had a moustache), and I could have used a little more of a distinction between Ollie and Archie as characters.
I also enjoyed the art style of this volume, and I felt that the detail on the vehicles was extremely well done. I’m not sure if the black and white final chapter was a purposeful choice because I had an advanced reader copy, but it seems very fitting because the story of our adventurers comes to a tragic end.
There is a lot of smoking and a bit of drinking because it’s World War II and pretty much every service person smoked. There area few cuss words but this is also pretty consistent with servicemen. In fact, there could have been much more cussing, but we are following a trio of British gentlemen, so they are a bit more proper than the normal airman. There is no publisher rating on this copy, as I'm not sure that's something that the Naval Press does, but I would put this in high school as low as world history classes go (in California, that's usually 10th grade).
Sara’s Rating: 10/10
Suitability level: Grades 10-12
This review was made possible with an advanced reader copy from the publisher through Edelweiss. This copy will be on sale May 20, 2020.
Tags: Rating: 10/10, Suitability: High School, Graphic Fiction, Historical Fiction
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