Swan Song Part 2

By Babouche, Dorison & HerzetCover to the second Swan Song book
Publisher: Cinebook
ISBN: 9781849185493

In the previous volume a group of French soldiers has been handed a petition containing thousands of signatures, signed by their comrades in arms. The aim of the petition is to bring the senseless massacre caused by the utter incompetence of the army top brass to the attention of the French Government. The problem was how the petition would reach Paris, a task Kazinsky’s platoon have stumbled into. But that puts them at odds with their own side. Now, treated as deserters, they are being hunted across the French countryside. Haste is needed because in two days another French offensive will see thousands of men needlessly slaughtered on the battlefield. It’s essential that they reach the capital, and their contact, if there’s any hope of stopping it.

What starts off as a platoon of thirty men is soon eroded as they try to outrun their pursuers. Heroic stands, betrayals and miscalculations are to be found every mile of the journey until a handful of men are all that’s left to get the petition delivered. This makes for some bittersweet moments as morals are compromised, and where both difficult decisions and hard choices are made. It’s not even as if every man is behind getting the petition delivered, but, in the end, it’s the brotherhood of the platoon that drives them onward.

The creators manage to present a group of men united in trying to do the right thing. They’re good people, attempting to do a good thing in order to save lives, and in those moments we witness their heroism and self-sacrifice. It’s a tragic tale, and you’ll be moved as the platoon’s numbers are thinned. The train yard scene is one of the most heartbreaking moments I’ve read in a very long time.

But that’s a mark of great writing. If you’re not empathising with the protagonists then why read it? The characters come alive on the page which makes the deaths all that more tragic. Babouche’s art is what really sells the package, though. Dramatic, colourful and dynamic, you’re carried along from scene to scene as the pace and threat increases, through idyllic French villages and beautiful countryside settings. Even the more horrific moments are presented with a vivid flair.

An excellent story with something to say about war, friendship and duty. A great addition to Cinebook’s Expresso line-up.

And if you liked that: Try Lonesome, also from Cinebook

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