Dropped fifteen miles from their intended target, amidst a barrage of anti-aircraft artillery, the members of the United States 82nd Airborne find themselves in the village of Graignes, France. Armed with the knowledge that aiding the American soldiers will incur horrific punishments from the Germans, the citizens of this small village admirably vote to feed and shelter the troops. Unfortunately, it is not long before the presence of American military brings the Germans to Graignes doorstep and war ravages the community for six days.
“Just make it to the end of every day.”
At the beginning of Six Days: The incredible True Story of D-Day’s Lost Chapter, writers Robert Venditti and Kevin Maurer frame their story by writing, “This is a war story, but at its heart it is about two groups of people from different cultures coming together for the greater good. The world will always be in need of that.” I do not believe that there is a better quote describe this story. Certainly, this is a war story, as it is set during Operation Overlord in World War II. However, if you’re looking for a story focused on expertly executed military strategies, then you may need to readjust your expectations.
There are traditional elements of war stories sprinkled throughout the narrative, however, this is first and foremost a story about the triumph of the human spirit. It is because of this theme that the story truly works. Through appealing to our innate desire to help our fellow man, Robert Venditti and Kevin Maurer tell a story that not only resonates with readers but also pays tribute to those who have served our country. Without giving too much away, the writers accomplish this through the entertaining banter between the soldiers as well as the interactions between the soldiers and the civilians as they begin to help each other.
One of my favorite moments from the entire graphic novel involves Tommy dancing with a little girl before going to the church. It’s these quieter moments that demonstrate this soldier’s character. Amidst the chaos of preparing for battle, these men take the time to enjoy these small things that are, in retrospect, much bigger things. These moments also help humanize these characters and allows you to make a connection with them.
There are also some biblical connections throughout Six Days: The incredible True Story of D-Day’s Lost Chapter which reinforce Venditti and Maurer’s message of unity and the greater good. The parallels that the writers create between Tommy’s family church in the states and the church in Graignes excellently accomplish two goals. First, it gives the reader a glimpse into Tommy’s upbringing and allows us to see the values that he has carried into the war. It also reaffirms the message of unity by allowing us to focus on the similarities of these cultures instead of their differences. Two churches that are half a world apart are preaching the same message to two different congregations. Venditti and Maurer use this to illustrate that even though these individuals may be from two different cultures they are all brought up with similar values.
It’s these moments that promote themes of unity that have me returning to the aforementioned quote that opens the book. Given our current perception of our culture because of social media and the twenty-four hour news cycle, it’s hard for a message such as this to not to hit home. Indeed, we are in need of more stories like this, perhaps now more than ever.
“He was a brave man and it’s men like him who are making the world safer for tomorrow.”
None of this story would work as well without Andrea Mutti’s artwork. Between the wonderfully rendered action sequences and quieter moments in church, Mutti’s artwork is hauntingly beautiful. He expertly conveys the devastation the takes place during war without ever venturing into realm of the grotesque. Some of my favorite pages throughout the entire graphic novel take place once the German forces begin invading Graignes. Mutti’s use of color expertly conveys the chaos and destruction of the ensuing battle. Additionally, Mutti’s panel work during the sequences involving the American’s reconnaissance of the area wonderfully creates tension as a German tank approaches the troops.
With Six Days: The incredible True Story of D-Day’s Lost Chapter, Robert Venditti and Kevin Maurer tell a story that not only resonates with readers but also pays tribute to those who have served our country. This is due in large part due to the themes surrounding unity and the greater good that permeate the plot. Additionally, Andrea Mutti’s beautiful artwork elevates the story with his expert use of color. Moreover, Mutti’s work with panels expertly conveys the tension as the German forces approach the small community. The world will always be in need of more stories like this.