Swan Song Part 1

By Babouche, Dorison & Herzet
Publisher: Cinebook
ISBN: 9781849185486

It’s the First World War, and things are not going well for the French. Once again, Lieutenant Kazinsky’s platoon is to be treated as cannon-fodder. The men are ordered over the top to face the enemy. The result is as bloody as it is expected. After the massacre, a few survivors from the platoon meet a fellow soldier who slips them a petition. It has been signed by countless French soldiers, demanding action to stop the slaughter. But the petition is only worth something if it can be seen by the right people back in Paris. The chances of that look remote, if not impossible. That is until events begin to run away with themselves, and the remnants of Kazinsky’s platoon find themselves on the run.

From the beginning, Swan Song feels fresh and vibrant, which is no mean feat when the subject matter of the Great War has been explored in a multitude of stories. We, the readers, also know what a grim and desperate place it was in the trenches. And yet, somehow, the creators seem to both acknowledge this and use it to inject urgency and even humour into the tale.

Illustrated in a style that would sit quite comfortably as anime, with a gorgeous loose watercolour palette, Swan Song feels different from its first few panels. It’s enough to make you sit up and drink in the story. But it’s not until almost halfway through, when the platoon survivors are lied to by their commanding officers, that it all changes gear and really feels special. What at first seems a reasonable, if not foolish, ploy to appeal their position quickly roars past the point of no return. 

With several nicely conceived set pieces, great pacing, and interesting characters, I felt instantly at home with the story. And it’s always a pleasure to have your interest rewarded when a story alters course like this one does. It might only be April, but this is a contender for series of the year already.

And if you liked that: The second and final part is available now.

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