Monday, August 6, 2012

Review: Major Eazy Heart of Iron! Bad-Arse British Battle!

You’re probably not alone if you’ve never heard of seventies British comics' icon Major Eazy. I certainly hadn’t, but the more I read the more I was intrigued. He’s unshaven, unruly, unorthodox, and is more laconic than Garfield. Refusing to run, and only walking when he absolutely has to, Eazy is chauffeured around in his battle-ready Bentley, taking perfect pop shots at World War II’s Nazi villains with his omnipresent sniper rifle. In between bouts of hard boiled battlefield action he sleeps. In fact he spends half of his first adventure asleep. What’s not to like?

But don’t confuse this with laziness or a lack of enthusiasm. Eazy is really just conserving his energy for when it counts. He has a Batman-esque ability to calmly deduct the solution to a problem while everyone else is freaking out, waving their terrified arms in the air. And when it is time for action he dispenses his own brand of “justice” both brutally and indiscriminately. No bad deed goes unpunished. Major Eazy kicks all kind of arse.

Our friends at Titan Books have had the foresight to finally collect Eazy’s Italian campaign, originally published in the seventies, into one large hardcover volume, Major Eazy: Heart of Iron, written by Alan Hebden and with stunning art from Carlos Ezquerra. So for the first time in a long time we get to share in his many over-the-top adventures. I’ve got a copy and now I want to share it with you!

To find out what I thought... join me after the jump!

The first thing that hits you is the striking black and white Ezquerra art. Much like Eazy himself, it’s not pretty, but it’s perfectly rugged and visceral and you feel every punch and explosion. It feels well researched too with every car, plane and tank rendered in exquisite, gritty detail. The reproduction quality of these 35-year-old pages isn't always great, especially on some of the grey tones pages (which I assume were originally printed in colour?) and they can sometimes look a little fuzzy or have faded text, but the pure black and white work is mostly crisp. You’ll also have to get used to the ugly typeface pasted into the speech bubbles which was perfectly normal in British comics of the time,but feels clumsy when viewed next to the beautifully hand-lettered American comics also released in the seventies.

Not that it matters too much once you start to really dig into the stories themselves. The individual stories are a short, with each one running only 3 - 4 pages (Eazy was originally just one small part of war anthology book Battle Picture Weekly) but I am astounded at just how much information is packed into each one. No space is wasted and every satisfying story has a clearly defined beginning, middle and end. If only contemporary comics could deliver this kind of consistency! It’s also great because it’s a book that’s easy to pick up and put down, and can be enjoyed in short doses if you’re pressed for time. I read it in snippets but it definitely kept me going back for more.

But the greatest appeal for me is the Major Eazy character. Often mistaken as a hooligan, he’s actually extremely shrewd and uncompromising with an extensive knowledge of strategy and weaponry that far exceeds his constantly astonished peers. He’s incredibly racist and dismissive: everyone is a “kraut”, “jerry”, “yank” or “eye-tie” and although he seems to kill Germans with enthusiastic efficiency, he’s not afraid to lay into his allies either if they're foolish enough to cross him. In one story an American pilot mistakes the British for a German convoy and starts firing at them. Eazy wastes no time in blowing up the plane and when more American troops arrive to exact vengeance he lays the smack down on their commander until his point of view is understood.

Similarly, when one of his own frightened soldiers flees from flamethrower packing Germans, Eazy smacks him in the face, threatens to shoot his legs off, takes him back to the conflict and forces him to look at the charred remains of his fellow men. But the traumatic lesson has the desired effect and soon the soldier is wiping away his tears and ready to kill some Nazis!

At times it’s all a bit confronting, but I found Eazy to be an instantly likeable and entertaining anti-hero. In every single short story you know that it’s only a matter of time before he does something unexpected and awesome (and probably violent) and there’s joy to be had in seeing it all explode. We don’t always initially know what he’s up to, so his actions often seem reckless and outlandish, but, by the end, the method to his madness is invariably revealed.

If you’re a connoisseur of older comics then I think that Major Eazy: Heart of Iron is definitely worth your time. Not only does it have value as a preserved artifact of our past, but it’s also a damn entertaining read. I also found it somewhat refreshing to read war comics that weren’t from a jingoistic American perspective. The British bring with them an irresistible irreverence that kept me chuckling through the horror. Recommended!

You can find out more about Major Eazy at Titan's site.


  1. If you like this you should definitely check out Pat Mills' ground breaking WW1 epic "Charlie's War".

  2. when are we going to see a battle comics movie.will poulter as danny budd- bootneck boy?lyndon ogbourne as private r.steele.stephen dillane as sgt.thorne in a movie of cold steele?lee oakes-major eazy?stan boardman/jim davidson screenwriters?

    1. Couldn't agree more! When I was reading this book I thought it would make an awesome movie.

    2. if pat mills and john wagner were to put together a movie poster with roy(chubby)brown dressed as winston churchill giving the v for victory gesture.they would sell a major eazy movie at the cannes film festival.due to carlos ezquerra artwork.i visuailise a major eazy movie to be a italian/england co-production influenced by sergio leone.would john turturro be well cast as tewik?