World War I is remembered as one of the most brutal conflicts in human history. Thousands of people were slaughtered and many soldiers gave their lives to protect their country. One of the bravest soldiers, Alvin York, received the Medal of Honour for his actions. York was a man who believed in peace, though he did what he thought was necessary to serve his men. His story is told in the pages of Medal Of Honour: Alvin York. Written by Chuck Dixon, the comic was created in collaboration with the Association of the United States Army (AUSA) to remember York’s valour.
The comic goes into detail about York’s life and his humble beginnings. Born in Tennessee, York became the sole provider for his mother and ten siblings after his father died. This brought on a sense of responsibility from a young age. He became a devout Christian, wanting to walk a peaceful path. When he was drafted into the army, York found himself conflicted. His religious beliefs made him question his duties as a soldier, but he obeyed orders.
York’s defining moment came during the Meuse-Argonne campaign. The majority of his unit were killed by German machine gun fire, so he took control. York led seven Americans against overwhelming odds. The story tells of how York managed to take out the machine gun nest and captured 132 German soldiers. For his bravery, York earned the rank of sergeant and a Medal of Honour.
The comic does a fantastic job of highlighting York’s bravery. Dixon’s depiction of a WW1 battlefield recalls the fear that many soldiers would have faced when they were fighting. York disregarded his own life to make sure his unit could make it out alive. It was his knowledge of gun tactics that helped him get an advantage over the Germans, with Dixon showcasing York’s cleverness time and again.
Rick Magyar and Peter Pantazis’ art makes the comic even more memorable. Every panel is packed with colour, from the dusty town of York’s youth, to the verdant fields of Europe. Compared to other war graphic novels I’ve read, the art is more restrained, but I think that’s a good thing. Violence doesn’t always need to be sensationalised. The comic tells a simple story of one man who served his country.
You can read the comic for free by going to the AUSA website. It’s being distributed for educational purposes and is the first of a series that will recognise the contribution of other decorated American soldiers.