The Final Flight
Created and illustrated by Romain Hugault
Story and dialogs by Romain Hugault & Regis Hautiere
Editions Paquet, 2007
I picked this up purely on the information that it was a comic book that involved WWII planes and the cover art was nice. This method of selecting comics leads to the purchase of some real crap and I should try to stop however from time to time you find a real gem like Hugault's "The Final Flight". In this rather slim volume are the stories of four combat pilots and the brief moments when their lives intersect.
Hugault starts in April, 1945 with "Cherry Blossom," the tale of kamikaze pilot Terou and the letter he writes his father before leaving on his mission. We then move to June of 1944 where in "Reprieve" we share Tom's, an American pilot, experiences as he is shot down behind enemy lines. The next story, "Iron Cross" moves us only one month further back, to March, where German ace Gunther leads a cadre of young men against a formation of American bombers. "Angel Drop", the final tale takes us to the Eastern front in November of 1943 where we meet Alain a young Frenchman who is flying for the Russians. Finally the epilogue brings us back to Tom and early in 1945 as he is deployed to an aircraft carrier in the Pacific, bringing us full circle.
The common theme which links the four pilots is the futility of war and the desperate actions one will take in service of not their countries but their comrades and while Haugult beats the reader around the head with his moral, I did not find it distracting. Over all Hugault manages to pack a lot of story in to these 55 pages along with a TON of beautifully rendered airplanes. From Zeroes and Corsairs in the Pacific, to the Thunderbolts, Lightnings, Mustangs, Yaks, Focke Wulfs, and Messerschmitts which controlled the skies over Europe each plane is incredibly detailed and accurate. About the only complaint I have about Hugault's art is that at times his faces are not right and that can be distracting.
All in all I felt the $10 price of admission was well worth it and I am very much looking forward to seeing more of Hugault's work, either in English or his native French.