The Lion & the Eagle (2022) #2

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This issue’s one part history lesson, one part ground situation establishing, one part war action. The Chindit forces are moving into position now, airdropped behind Japanese lines to wreak havoc. Writer Garth Ennis tells most of their successes in summary, outside the opening battle sequence, where artist PJ Holden reveals how glorious and gory the art will get.

Though Holden does once again get a little confused with the shifts between time periods. It’s particularly noticeable this time because almost the entire story comes through in dialogue about the latest war developments, so the issue demands attention. Even then, the time shifts are wonky.

It’s a minor complaint, however, and the only one. Otherwise, Lion & the Eagle is fantastic comics storytelling. Ennis plays around with the layering, giving the reader the backstory on the Chindit operation as a postscript once their mission changes. He’s very deliberate about the narration from protagonist Crosby and where and when things get introduced. Unlike the first issue, there’s not much in the way of character development. When Crosby’s pal, Alistair, finally gets something to do and Crosby muses on the last issue’s revelations, it’s almost the end of the issue, and these aren’t the most essential musings of the day. There’s a war on, after all.

Ennis puts a lot of effort into the supporting cast, starting with Havildar-Major Singh and his professional relationship with Crosby. Ennis spends much of the issue introducing the Gurkhas, the fearsome, joyful Nepalese soldiers. Ennis (and Crosby) get to have some fun amid the horror.

The history also seems ripe for a story, just the way things happened. Not even the Japanese forces being more formidable than initially assumed, but how happenstance can change the course of an operation and history. Ennis and Holden take their time with the comic, never rushing a conversation or briefing. It’s precise and exquisite. As expected, but still incredibly impressive.

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