COMICS: John Reviews “Crecy” by Warren Ellis and Raulo Caceres

As the History Channel has proven since its debut, history lessons do not have to be boring affairs.  The history of warfare is particularly entertaining to watch or read about, and Crecy  is an historical account of one of warfare’s most important battles as reounted by Warren Ellis, one of the comic industry’s most prolific and entertaining authors. 

As its title implies, Crecy is the story of the British versus the French at the Battle of Crecy in 1346, one of the pivotal battles in the Hundred Years’ War.  The book’s description is intentionally worded to be applicable both to historical times and to the modern-day Iraq War: 

“A highly-trained but under-equipped army invades another country due to that country’s perceived threat to home security.  The army conducts shock-and-awe raids designed to terrify the populace.  This army is soon driven to ground and vastly outnumbered.”

Oh, that crafty Warren Ellis.  He would find parallels between 1346 and 2003.  But I digress.

The story is told from the perspective of an unnamed archer fighting in King Edward’s army.  This archer blends narration and dialogue as he takes time to look at and speak directly to the reader, even mid-battle.  He provides the reader with all sorts of background information on a variety of subjects, ranging from the reasons for the war to the checquered history of British royalty to the mechanics of archery, all with a typical Ellis characters’ characteristic foul mouth and pitch-black sense of humor.  The information is historically accurate, to boot! (Well, at least Wikipedia seems to present the same information.)  You’ll learn all about which Kings couldn’t speak a word of English, why the English hate the Scottish and the Welsh and the Normans and the French, why longbows are more adaptable to bad weather than crossbows and why the conditions of the Battle of Crecy changed the face of large-scale warfare forever.

Raulo Caceres’s art is truly spectacular, and in many cases outshines the story itself.  The work is all pencils and inks (no color), bu the illustrations are so incredibly complex and detailed that large-scale battles look better than any of the illustrations in the history books.  Caceres’s drawings may actually be too good for the story, as I found myself getting lost in them and forgetting to continue on.  Since a picture is worth a thousand words, here’s more than I care to type:

A splash page from Crecy, illustrated by Raulo Caceres

A splash page from Crecy, illustrated by Raulo Caceres

If you’re someone that enjoys either history or war stories (and especially if you enjoyed Braveheart) you’ll find Crecy to be visually breathtaking, thoroughy entertaining and even informative.  The only real “problem” is that it’s a bit on the short side at only 48 pages, but it’s priced appropriately at $6.99.  Read it for yourself, and learn why the “peace” sign is more ironic than you had ever realized.


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