The essence of World War II in terms of understanding the war can always been overwhelming in terms of sheer size and scope and also of pertinence. Certain battles because of pop culture or movies like Normandy, Dunkirk, Pearl Harbor or Iwo Jima will always be foremost in some minds. With “World War II: Battle By Battle” [Nikolai Bogdanovic/Osprey/128pgs], there is more of a sense of minutiae and how certain battles fit into a great conception of the whole. Some battles indicated here like one in Scandinavia where the the city went back and forth from the Germans and some of their quiet allies is interesting also because of the cold ratio. There is also a battle in the forests in Germany where guerrilla and trench warfare were implemented. Seeing these individually are interesting perceptions of a different approach that maybe wasn’t heard about often. The interesting aspect with this book is that it is matter of fact in many ways and gives the structure of the battle while also adding a minute amount of editorial about why and how it was fought. The illustrations give interesting perspective but are more structured like a moment in time versus the essence of either the tactics or the emotional resonance. The inherent dissimulation of the battles in the order they are in does not necessarily show a trajectory of why they were selected but the author is quick to point out that the war was so far reaching that this is inherently impossible in any way because of the amount of moving parts. All said in this personification, the book gives a very rounded view of the warfare without being mired and drone-like in its relation of facts. Thereby, it definitely is effective in many ways.
By Tim Wassberg
Usually graphic novels move on the basis to give perception to interesting textures of metaphor or a gated mythic journey. What is interesting about “Kingdom Of Dwarfs” [David Wenzel/192pgs/IDW] is its undeniable plausibility of an alternative history and the implementation of Western and Christian oversight which seeks to change the ideas. History is written by those who rule and unless there is some way to safeguard what has been done and what is said, there is little possibility for history to survive millennia. The basis here (whether in truth or in fiction) was an archaeological dig in Britain which revealed an underground kingdom called Aegol. The agreement is that the discovery was too controversial. They could do illustrations and research before the find was sealed back up as it would undeniably change perception of certain parts of history leading into the Middle Ages. The first half of the book sets down the machinations of the kingdom from how the people lived, the structure of the geology and layout of the kingdom but also the metallurgy of the treasures they created. Every myth has a basis in some fact and some of the ideas shown here include processes centuries ahead of their time but lost to time included smelting and steam power, which are undeniable. For the fan, the essence of the weapons are there but the underlying social element, structure but also superstitions of regular men definitely resonate. While today dwarfism is perhaps seen as a genetic disorder in many ways, the idea of it as a full culture that fueled an entire structure of magic which was specifically just science ahead of its time is thrilling to say the least. Granted the book was originally written in 1980 and out of print until now in its new digital form. The second half of the book is a little more verbose and attempts to restructure the history that brought the dwarfs to England from mainland Europe. Two of the stories resonate widely. One involves the influence that dwarf culture may have had with the Egyptians as far back at 1500 BC when the age of man in terms of history was barely unfolding. The second is the story of Weylund, a half man/half dwarf son of the King of Aegol. This idea is made for a TV series. What is interesting is that the story post-Weylund intersects with that of the Vikings, Rollo (of Normandy) and Carete which is unfolding on S5 of History Channel’s Vikings. Weylund’s story intersects with the King Arthur legend per se but his journey from his parents’ courtship to his training and betrayal to his exile and falling in love to his return to power is quite dynamic and made for the visual medium. The disappearance of dwarf culture is pre-industrial and technological at times but is also quite believable as societal and Christian values in those days probably caused the omission of any help to this sector of culture. The explanation of Stonehenge is also quite interesting. “Kingdom Of The Dwarfs” is a dynamic read not so much for the illustrations (which are good) but for the story and alternate history that it is describes both in thought, metaphor and literal inferences.
By Tim Wassberg