By: Kieron Gillen (writer), Caanan White (pencils), Joseph Silver (inks), Michael Dipascale (colors) and Kurt Hathaway (letters)
The Story: The Soviets turn the tide on the Eastern front.
The Review (with SPOILERS): This was another very solid issue for the series. As with the whole series (and I’ve said this before), it remains much more of a war-comic rather than an alt-superhero comic. I feel like I need to keep pointing that out because we’ve gotten so many World War II comics featuring superheroes (like Captain America or the Invaders or Hellboy or whoever) and then there are the “clever” comics/characters (like Red Son, Red Skull, etc.) that attempt to show us how the bad guys also wanted superheroes and how the post-War could have been very different. Uber is decidedly not THAT. It is not focused on characters, but on the narrative of the War itself. We do get to know a little about the humans who are turned into super-soldiers, but it’s pretty shallow. These guys aren’t Captain America where Cap’s origin as a humble, skinny kid are vital to understanding his entire world-view. These are just disposable human soldiers who are deployed impersonally because war sucks.
Another thing that I loved about this issue is that it shows the series is (probably) going to be pretty faithful to the factual outcome of World War II. I doubt it’ll be a series where we’ll examine, “What if the Nazis won?” This issue focuses on the Eastern front of the European Theatre. Aside from little snippets about the Battle of Stalingrad, the Eastern front doesn’t really enter our Anglo-centric consciousness. That’s probably because the Allies had their hands full on the Western front, but also because the Soviets were the bad guys and we didn’t really care about what happened to them. If the Soviets wanted to feed hundreds of thousands of citizens into the Nazi wood-chipper, that was great because it meant that many fewer American and British boys would die.
Anyway, the issue shows the huge sacrifices that the Soviets made to develop their own supermen. True to the general themes of the war, they weren’t developing SUPER-superman like the Germans were, they were developing a swarm of hastily produced, low-quality supermen. Where the Germans had excellence and efficiency, the Soviets would swarm with numbers. And it worked. They don’t really “win” the battle, but they do enough to drive the Nazi war machine away AND injure it severely. That’s just like what happened in real life where the Soviets ground down the Nazi’s by throwing huge waves of citizens soldiers and conscripts at the Nazis until the Nazis were exhausted. The Eastern front was nasty, nasty stuff – FULL of atrocities like paving a “road” by lining up frozen, dead bodies like logs to drive tanks upon – and I like how Gillen uses the narrative of speculative fiction to make us understand the truth.
The art remains a sort of mixed bag for me. It is really “fine” and nothing that will keep anyone from reading the series. You can tell who all the characters are and what they are doing. However, I love the narrative of the series enough that I do wish the art was better. This is 6/10 art and the story is kinda a 9/10 story. It’s just a little stiff and a little over-inked for my tastes. It’s also just brutally realistic and I wouldn’t mind a more innovative take on the art. I’m not sure what that would be, but I’d love to see something with about 20% more style.
Conclusion: Another very good issue. It’s a great story with art that is 70% of what it needs to be.
– Dean Stell