Friday, April 16, 2010

War can be a queer thing

Desert Peach: Beginnings (Atlantic Books, 1989)
Writing and Art: Donna Barr
Rating: Seven of Ten Stars

"Desert Peach: Beginnings" reprints Donna Barr's earliest chronicles of the quirky adventures of "Peach," the flamingly gay younger brother of famous WW2 German General Erwin Rommel. Like his brother, "Peach" Rommel is a capable commander and loyal to Germany, but he is of a far more gentle disposition and is more interested in hanging out with the boys than he is in waging war against the Allies.

In this first collection, we get to meet the Desert Peach, key members of his unit, their Allied prisoner (who is treated more like one of the gang than an enemy) and a variety of other odd and funny characters. We even get to meet the Desert Fox, Rommel himself, as his visits his brother. The highlight of the book is a surfing expedition off the North African coast as the Rommel brothers ride some waves on home-made surfboards... only to be menaced by American submarines.

"Desert Peach: Beginnings" is a different kind of WW2 comic book. It's presents funny and in some ways even touching tales of likeable and decent German military men in the middle of the Nazi cesspool of the Third Reich. And given the nature of the historical Erwin Rommel, the protrayal of him and his fictional brother "Peach" doesn't seem all that far fetched. It's a well-drawn and well-written change of pace from the usual tales set in the period.

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