3 Days to Battle Action: meet Hellman of Hammer Force & Glory Rider!

5th June 2022

Featuring seven brand new stories written by Garth Ennis – the mind behind The Boys, Preacher, and war comics such as The Stringbags and Sara – the 96-page hardcover anthology captures the spirit and action of the merger of the groundbreaking Battle and Action comics in the 1970s.

Behind the cover by Andy Clarke (Batman and Robin) and Dylan Teague (Madi), Ennis is joined by artists Mike Dorey (Ro-Busters), John Higgins (Watchmen), Keith Burns (Ladybird Expert series), PJ Holden (The Stringbags), Patrick Goddard (Judge Dredd), Chris Burnham (Batman) and League of Extraordinary Gentlemen artist Kevin O’Neill.

As we approach D-Day, we shall introduce you to the legendary Battle Action characters who are back in action for this landmark book - so don your goggles and prepare for some desperate tank fighting as we meet HELLMAN OF HAMMER FORCE and GLORY RIDER!

This brand new story - written by Garth Ennis with art by Mike Dorey and letters by Rob Steen - brings together two tank commanders on opposing side of World War Two!

Created by Gerry Finley-Day and Mike Dorey, Major Kurt Hellman commands Hammer Force, a German tank unit in action almost everywhere the Reich sends its troops during the Second World War: Poland, France and the Low Countries, Greece, North Africa, Tunisia, and finally the graveyard of the Panzers, Russia.

Hellman struggles to fight as clean a war as he can, refusing orders to commit atrocities, frequently coming into conflict with his Nazi masters as a result. But as the conflict grinds on and the war becomes total, the simple notion of survival becomes the only imperative. In its own way Action’s most subversive strip, Hellman seemed almost guaranteed to offend a number of readers’ grandfathers- whose actual experiences not thirty years previously might well have left them ill-disposed to a German lead character in a children’s comic.

To this end, Hellman himself was made as decent and upstanding as possible, frequently going out of his way to take prisoners, even at severe risk to his own life. This led to a number of odd contrivances that thankfully became rarer as the strip progressed; indeed, once Hellman found himself on the Russian Front, facing the vengeful Soviet war machine, the story at last came into its own. Powerful art by Mike Dorey and Pat Wright illustrated one of Finley-Day’s darkest tales, a witch’s cauldron of civilian massacres, death camps, and the final, dreadful Battle of Berlin.

As an American armoured regiment fights its way across Africa and Western Europe, Sergeant Steve Hilts realises that commanding officer “Jeb” Rider is concerned only with his own advancement - determined to live up to the reputation of his Civil War ancestor at all costs. But Hilts is alone in this understanding, and as young American tank crews smash themselves against the German Panzers, he starts to doubt if any of his comrades will survive their commander’s lust for glory.

Created by Gerry Finley-Day and Geoff Campion, Glory Rider was a nice idea that lasted longer than it should have. Essentially represented a weekly gimmick: the cowardly Rider is about to be disgraced, only to escape once more and grab the glory into the bargain, usually at the expense of his men’s lives (and witnessed by the frustrated Hilts). The ending of the story does, however, shift magnificently into high gear, as the increasingly insane Rider makes it all the way to Berlin. Carlos Cruz took over from Geoff Campion after just a few issues, and drew the strip for the rest of its eight month run.

So don’t pull your punches - get the Battle Action Special, out on 8 June from all good comic book stores and the 2000 AD and Treasury of British Comics webshops, and from September from all good book stores and major online retailers.