One of History’s Greatest Battles—In Comics
Artist Wayne Vansant sketches the Battle of the Bulge
Wayne Vansant has been working on war comics for a long time. Best known for his work on Marvel Comics’ The ’Nam in the 1980s, today Vansant writes and draws comics histories of major battles, from the American Civil War to World War II.
His latest is The Battle of the Bulge, recreating the epic back-and-forth combat between the Allies and the Germans that raged across Belgium’s Ardennes forest in the winter of 1944 and ’45.
The battle arguably turned the tied of the war on the Western front, allowing the Allies to finally close in on Berlin. It’s a worthy subject for Vansant’s talent.
Vansant’s enthusiasm for history is apparent. His renderings of soldiers’ equipment and uniforms are painstakingly detailed. His research is impeccable, accurately capturing the battle’s sweeping scope.
His script moves easily from soldiers fighting and dying in the snow to generals laying complex plans and politicians crafting grand strategy.
Vansant’s comic shows how military campaigns rarely go as planned, owing to logistical snarls, poor weather and personality clashes between commanders.
Meanwhile on the ground, the fighting is brutal and bloody—and Vansant’s art never lets you forget it.
Both sides in the Battle of the Bulge executed prisoners, but the German crimes were particularly cruel. The book shockingly depicts the Malmedy Massacre, in which the Waffen SS gunned down 80 American prisoners.
The Battle of the Bulge is a fine work of comics. And it’s pretty great as history, too. I highly recommend it.