Garth Ennis has made a lengthy comics career of working on the indie fringes, supplementing this with occasional mainstream superhero work. This is an economic necessity of the market (Warren Ellis has made similar comments, but does his work with a lot less dislike of the medium), but it's an unfortunate one, as Ennis has a pronounced dislike for the superhero pre-eminence and he tends to take it out on the characters when he writes them (see: whenever any other costumed hero appears in "Punisher MAX", or anyone but Superman in "Hitman"). Far better if he could exclusively focus his time on things like "Battlefields", another of his war stories, a genre at which he is a master. Some spoilers follow.
"Night Witches", the first of the three "Battlefields" miniseries (the original run, anyway; a second set of three has been ordered, including a sequel to "Night Witches"), takes place on the Russian front (the lone of the original three with not a Brit in sight). This was, almost without question, the most brutal front of the war. Armies numbering in the millions clashed in a war of extermination, with civilians squarely in the line of fire and the weather frequently as big an enemy as any bomb. The title characters are the female Russian pilots recruited to fly semi-obsolete aircraft on dangerous night bombing runs. The main character, Captain Anna Kharkova, is a fairly optimistic type starting out, always a bad sign in Garth Ennis stories and war stories. The Witches (the name given by the German soldiers they harass) face enough challenges from the male pilots on their own side, who get better materiel and look down on their efforts.
The second thread of story here (there's a lot going on in only three issues) follows Kurt, a young German soldier whose units travels across Russia, ending up in Stalingrad in winter. Kurt is, like Anna, a nice guy, and unlike her is clearly not that suited to the realities of war. Stories covering German soldiers always have a particular line to walk, but Ennis does a good job rendering Kurt's attempts to avoid descending to the same level as his fellow soldiers. Dramatic logic dictates that Anna and Kurt must cross paths at some point, which will put Kurt in the crucible. And there, Ennis being Ennis, he introduces a particularly brutal turn of events that avoids the easy of way of ending such a story.
The story feels a bit choppy in places; overall giving the impression that this particular piece could have been about an issue longer easily, allowing them to flesh out events more and make for better transitions. Nevertheless, it is an excellent story, one of Ennis' better recent works. Russ Braun (a contributor to Vertigo's "Jack of Fables") provides the illustration for this story, and his work well-suits the material, though the uniformed characters can often seem a bit generically similar (a regular issue in comics), apart from a few of the leads. He accurate conveys the brutal environment.
Well worth reading.