Operation Broken Wings, 1936 #2
Written by Herik Hanna
Translation by Edward Gauvin
Art by Trevor Hairsine and Sébastien Lamirand
Lettering by Deron Bennett
Published by BOOM! Studios
Review by Deniz Cordell
‘Rama Rating 8 out of 10
The page taken here is not from the world of "boy’s adventure," though there are certainly notes from that venerable evergreen of a genre — but instead something from a far more world-weary, jaded literary tradition. The second issue of Operation Broken Wings, 1936, continues the war-espionage story at hand, with a mild dollop of the Romans Noir style so popularized by Donald Westlake’s alter ego; Richard Stark. Our protagonist — who, in a Len Deighton-esque touch, is only ever addressed by pronoun or as "(The) Major" — finds himself playing both sides of a war-torn field, before making a decision which throws the story in a new, uncertain direction.
Writer Henrik Hanna’s plotting is incredibly precise, and the whole enterprise unwinds with the inevitability of a finely crafted pocket watch. The care and thought that has gone into the depiction of “The Major" has led to an incredibly thought-provoking portrait of a man simultaneously sympathetic and repellant — and that vacillating sense of internal balance goes a long way towards informing the general milieu of the work, as well. Translator Edward Gauvin crafts some appropriately terse, tense dialogue, and the caption boxes detailing The Major’s thought processes are appropriately utilitarian, with a raw poetical sense — as we bear witness to The Major’s constant dissection of both situation and the characters he deals with. It’s a marvelous job on both parts.
Trevor Hairsine’s art is sharply defined — his use of shading provides an appropriately darker, dimmer look to the settings. The page compositions are very well done, and his staging of scenes — from an intimate shot of The Major on an airplane (a panel which clearly and eloquently demonstrates the character’s deep loneliness) to a chase sequence involving a new prototype automobile — is always clearly laid out and natural to follow. Additional praise must also be given to colorist Sébastien Lamirand, who soaks the scenery in highly muted tones, giving the book more of an "illustrated" sensibility than a more conventional comic book aesthetic.
The art team makes the violence fast and visceral — a fight in an aerodrome moves rapidly between close-ups, while longer panels (of varying width) create a constant sense of motion and focus — showing the methodical nature of all of the characters. The aforementioned chase scene brings out more of the “boy’s adventure" sensibility that I had mentioned above, and has moments of gingerly applied visual and verbal wit; particularly in the plane-bound punch line to the sequence.
To say much more would unfairly give away some of the elegant secrets and surprises of the book, but Operation Broken Wings, 1936 does what it sets out to do, and it does it extremely well. Though it is very much a story-driven piece, we are given a character that defies narrative expectations, and demonstrates his complex world view through his actions and thoughts. The level of detail that has gone into creating such a vivid past is impressive, particularly on the part of Hanna, in filling every moment with a bit of strange believability. It is well worth your time, particularly if you enjoy World War II-set fiction, or the espionage thrillers of Buchan, Ambler, Deighton or Fleming.Got a comment? There's lots of conversation on Newsarama's FACEBOOK and TWITTER!