The Regiment, Book 2 picks up where the first volume left off in relating the history of elite British fighting force the SAS. After their disastrous first mission, when they lost 42 men (see Book 1) we’re now taken along with various teams as they undertake a number of largely successful raids on enemy airfields in the deserts of North Africa during World War II. Unfortunately, because of the desert heat, the bombs they planted on the planes almost invariably went off much earlier than they were supposed to (for example, after three minutes rather than fifteen) meaning they often had to fight their way out, with planes exploding all around them. In spite of that, they destroyed ninety planes, a very impressive total.

Needless to say, it’s not all plain sailing, and bad luck continued to plague the unit. This includes the death of one of our main players, something that rocks the other main characters to the core.

Thomas Legrain’s art continues to impress, though two of our three main characters do look very similar, with little to distinguish them, except from very slightly different hairstyles and shapes of beard. It’s a little like trying to tell which is which when Thomson and Thompson make an appearance in the Tintin books.

Writer Vincent Brugeas manages to balance the demands of the action-heavy plot with enough attention given to the human cost of their endeavours. This isn’t some gung-ho story with men used merely as disposable cannon fodder, but instead an attempt to relate the truth, warts and all. Some of the dialogue does come across as a bit… translated. It’s probably fine in the original French, but occasionally sounds a bit clunky and weird.

We compared the previous volume to a Commando comic, but the emotional depths this story mines are much more complex than any of those books. One genuinely feels the pain of the men in charge of the unit with each failure, and every death weighs heavily upon all the commanders. Book 3 concludes this history lesson.