By: Kieron Gillen (writer), Caanan White (pencils), Keith Williams (inks) and Digikore Studios (colors)
The Story: A new phase of this alternative WWII begins after the Allies access their own supermen.
Review (with SPOILERS): This isn’t a “great” comic or series, but it is different and unique. War comics used to be a real thing in the comic industry. Nowadays, other than the occasional series from Garth Ennis, we don’t get anything that feels like a real “war comic”. A few years ago, there were a few war-themed titles in DC’s New 52, but they just weren’t very good and they suffered because they were set in the DC Universe, so you always had a superhero/villain mucking around with the action.
Uber does feature superbeings, but it really flips the script by treating them more like sentient weapons. The focus on this WWII story is still 100% on the struggle between the Allies and Germany. That makes it more of an alternate-history than a superbeing story. Who doesn’t love alternate histories? Even comic fans love alternate histories as Marvel has made a minor living on their What If? series for the last 40 years.
Uber also has a special sense of unpredictability. I have no idea what will happen. I think there are a couple of likely outcomes, but I really don’t know what path Kieron Gillen will take us down. That sense of unpredictability in comics is pretty uncommon and it’s worth supporting and paying attention to.
But what really sets Uber apart is how authentic and true-to-history it feels. At this point in the story, Nazi Germany has been beaten down and is close to defeat, but suddenly they have developed this technology for creating uber-humans. I mean, this is probably what the Allies were really afraid of as WWII drew to a close. Surely there were all sorts of myths and stories coming out of Germany about “superweapons” that could turn the tide of the war: Nuclear bombs, jet engines, etc. Heck, there are still TV programs and websites devoted to some of the whacky ideas the Nazi’s had– except back in 1945, the ideas weren’t “wacky,” they were “scary”. So, the story in Uber still has its big toe sticking in the pool of actual history.
I also like how it’s been shown that there are horrible human sacrifices to produce these super-humans. On the Nazi side, we just saw them testing the technology on prisoners and Jewish people. But, as a reader you just kinda shrug it off when the Nazis do something horrible because they are the Nazis and OF COURSE they did horrible things. What gives you a little more pause is seeing that the British obviously had to go through a similarly bloody process to develop their own super-soldiers. I guess that’s the thing about war: You have to WIN first and then worry about reclaiming your morals and humanity afterwards.
It’ll even be interesting to see how this technology gets shared. Just like in the real WWII, the Brits and Americans have oceans protecting them from the Nazis, so they are perfecting this technology while the Nazi uber-mensch splatter the Soviets all over Europe. Do you think Stalin might suggest that the Allies share their new “toy” with the rest of the Allies? Will Churchill and the US start to plan for a post-war with the Soviets as enemies? What kind of end game can we have with these new super-beings? It’s all very interesting to me.
The only (slight) letdown is the art. It isn’t “bad” and if you’ve read a lot of Avatar comics, you know that they have a distinctive look. You can certainly tell what is going on in the story, but it does look like something done by a less-experienced artist whose work was then fed into the Avatar machine that over-inks and over-colors everything. I mean, can you imagine what this would look like if someone like Steve Epting or Michael Lark drew it? I don’t mean that to bash on the guys doing the art. It’s just that I’m intrigued enough by the story that I wish the art was 10% better.
Conclusion: A very worthwhile series keeps trucking forward. I appreciate the alternate-history feeling of this story and also the sense of unpredictability.