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Interview: Garth Ennis is Ready for Action! Battle Action!

Interview by Nicki Faust

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Don’t miss the first issue of the brand new Battle Action!

Classic series from the legendary British comics Battle Picture Weekly and Action such as ‘Johnny Red’, ‘HMS Nightshade’, ‘Crazy Keller’, ‘D-Day Dawson’, ‘Dredger’, ‘Major Eazy’, and ‘Hellman of Hammer Force’ burst back into life in this new five-issue mini-series from 2000 Ad! Featuring the work of John Wagner (Judge DreddStrontium Dog), Dan Abnett (Guardians of the GalaxyWarhammer 40k), Torunn Grønbekk (Thor, Punisher: War Journal), Rob Williams (Suicide SquadJudge Dredd), John Higgins (Watchmen, Judge Dredd), Chris Burnham (Batman Incorporated, Unstoppable Doom Patrol), and Garth Ennis (Punisher, The Boys).

In the following interview, fan-favorite writer Garth Ennis tells us more about his involvement in Battle Action. Particularly, his role in the return of  World War Two flying ace ‘Johnny Red.’ Keep reading... 

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Both yourself and Rogue have been away from the weekly 2000 AD for a little while – when returning to writing a weekly serial for 2000 AD, what made Rogue a character you were interested in taking on?

Beyond the wonderfully imaginative stories by Gerry Finley-Day and the great art by Dave Gibbons, Colin Wilson, Brett Ewins and Cam Kennedy, what I always liked about the classic Rogue Trooper was the sense of tragedy hanging in the background - the godawful massacre of his entire regiment that drove his quest for revenge, his only comrades now dead men encoded on microchips in his equipment. You always knew that Gunnar, Bagman and Helm were that bit more determined to find the Traitor General than Rogue.

As for the weekly aspect, I’ve been thoroughly enjoying writing short stories again recently, most obviously for Battle Action - it’s very rewarding creatively, there’s a real challenge to getting maximum punch into just a few pages.

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Rogue’s classic stories cover a wide range of different tones and genres: from high concept future action to more intricate musings on the nature of war. What were your key themes and interests when writing Blighty Valley?

Following on from what I was saying above, I thought it would be interesting to change the setting for the first half of the story, and bounce Rogue off different characters and - quite literally - a different war. By combining a sci-fi concept with historical events I was able to look at the inescapable nature of human conflict; on a more personal level it was interesting to see Rogue, who can conceivably "live on" after death, interact with normal soldiers who only get one shot at life.

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What can you tell us about how Blighty Valley starts off, and where it’s potentially heading?

Blighty Valley was something I’d been thinking about for several years; much to Matt Smith’s chagrin it took me a while to get my act together on this one, what with various other commitments. But I’m very glad I did - it was a real pleasure writing such a classic 2000 AD character, one I’d put up there with Dredd, Johnny Alpha, Sam Slade, Nemesis and Slaine.

As to where it might go next - I’m writing another Rogue Trooper serial at the moment, one Paddy Goddard’s just started drawing, and I may at some point do a third. For some reason I like to do things in threes.

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You’re joined on the story by artist Patrick Goddard as well as letterer Rob Steen. How did you find working with them both, and artistically what do they bring to the comic, in your eyes? 

I’ve worked with Rob for years, he’s an old friend and utterly dependable, very professional. Paddy is my kind of artist, a great storyteller with an excellent sense of character, good at making weird concepts work.

He’s also very much a 2000 AD guy - in the same way that Henry Flint’s work puts me in touch with the likes of Carlos Ezquerra and Mick McMahon, I can see the original Rogue artists’ work in Paddy’s, in particular that of Dave and Colin.

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What kind of creative freedom do you have when working on 2000 AD comics? Do you feel they offer more room to tell the types of stories you want to tell?

Obviously the creative freedom on 2000 AD is not total, as it usually is in creator-owned, independent comics - where I spend most of my time. But knowing what the limits are going in helps enormously; you understand it’s the very mild price you pay for getting to write these fantastic characters, ones which were such a vital part of my comics-reading youth. See also Battle Action in that regard.

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Battle Action #1 is available in comic shops from 2000 AD. Reserve your copy with PREVIEWSworld Pullbox.  

And be sure to keep an eye on PREVIEWSworld.com's TwitterFacebookYouTube, or Instagram for more from Sumerian Comics.
REBELLION / 2000AD
BATTLE ACTION #1 (OF 10)
(W) Garth Ennis, Brian K. Vaughan (A) Chris Burnham (A/CA) Keith Burns
Blazing Battle Action on each page! Garth Ennis and Keith Burns reunite for a 10-issue maxi-series which tells the final story of Johnny Red, aerial ace! Johnny Redburn's battle against the German Luftwaffe continues into the final year of the Second World War - but Johnny's long war has taken a toll on him, and his bravery now edges towards recklessness. Will he make through the last months of the war? Then! In a guest feature, writer Brian K. Vaughan makes his Battle Action debut, joined by artist Chris Burnham for a shocking post-apocalyptic fable! In a hostile future London where Kids Rule, a young American boy runs for his life from a mob of xenophobic British Punks - but he has a secret weapon they aren't expecting...
In Shops: Oct 02, 2024
SRP: $7.99
PREVIEWS Page #423
REBELLION / 2000AD
BATTLE ACTION SPECIAL HC VOL 01 (O/A)
(W) Garth Ennis (A) VARIOUS (CA) Patrick Goddard
A brand-new collection of hard-hitting war stories from modern master Garth Ennis, drawn by a host of top talent including Kevin O'Neill and Chris Burnham! Ace fighter pilot Johnny Red battles Skreamer of the Stukas on the nightmarish Russian front. Veteran leader The Sarge and his section face hell in the brutal Italian campaign. Wheeler-dealer Crazy Keller drives for his life as World War Two comes to its bloody conclusion! Lethal British agent Dredger doles out justice - of a kind - on the streets of 1980s London.
In Shops: Jul 10, 2024
SRP: $24.99
PREVIEWS Page #423
REBELLION / 2000AD
BATTLE ACTION SPECIAL HC VOL 02 (O/A)
(W) Garth Ennis, John Wagner, Rob Williams, Dan Abnett, Torunn Gronbekk (A) Dan Cornwell, Chris Burnham, Phil Winslade, Henry Flint, John Higgins, P. J. Holden, Staz Johnson, Mike Dorey, Patrick Goddard (A/CA) Keith Burns
Garth Ennis (Preacher, The Boys) returns to Battle Action and brings an all-star roster of writers and artists to help him resurrect characters from the classic UK comics Battle and Action. From air ace Johnny Red to the daring Nina Petrova, and from lethal British agent Dredger to the louche Major Eazy. In total this collection includes 12 action-packed stories from some of the most popular writers in modern comics; John Wagner (Judge Dredd), Torunn Gr nbekk (Thor, Star Wars), Rob Williams (Suicide Squad), and Dan Abnett (Guardians of the Galaxy), and features art by some of the most in-demand comic artists including Chris Burnham (Batman) and John Higgins (Watchmen). This collection brings you blazing Battle Action on every page!
In Shops: Jul 10, 2024
SRP: $32.99
PREVIEWS Page #423

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Nicki Faust's heart is as cold as concrete in the Chicago winter. When not writing for PREVIEWSworld, Nicki is busy playing Limbo on Twitch, writing about the great robot uprising on Medium, and completing the untitled follow-up to the 2012 best-seller, Sue Storm: A Nude Photobook.

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