Wednesday, 17 September 2014

So I Read Uber: Volume 1

A 250 word (or less) review of the first Uber tradepaperback
by Kieron Gillen, Caanan White, Keith Williams, and Digikore Studios; Avatar Press

Inherent in the DNA of Superheroic comics is World War II and the concept of superhumans participating in that grand, glorious conflict. Mainstream comic forays into this subject tend to be nostalgia driven celebrations of triumph and heroism and more or less fail to account for the fact that war is fucking horrifying. Uber is a comic that takes the fantastical idea of superheroes fighting in WW2 and cements it to history and realism in a really dark and smart way. The basic premise sees the Nazis, in the final hours of the Reich, release an army of superhumans, the unstoppable Battleships and the lesser, but still deadly, Panzermensch. This prevents German defeat, extends the war, and starts a super-powers arms race. Uber is dark and bloody and horrific and a really nuanced treatment of the concept. If you know a bit about WW2 this is a really thoughtful and interesting comic. If you don't know anything about WW2 history, Uber might be hard to get into. I feel like the pace and complexity of the comic and the fact that many characters, based on real life people, are middle aged army officers in uniforms made early chapters a bit inscrutable. I managed to keep up, but I dabbled in 20th century history during my education. That said, as the comic continues, things settle out and simplify, and it becomes a ghastly and exciting read. It is very much a case of a comic improving upon the appearance of Hitler.

Word count: 250

Aside: This has nothing to do with the actual quality of the comic, but it was kind of frustrating and daft that the jumbo-sized hardcover edition came out before the tradepaperback of Uber Vol. 1. The hardcover edition is certainly a nice object, but people like me who tradewait are keen to try the comic in an affordable format as soon as possible. Making us wait longer seems either a calculated attempt to make us buy in at the higher price, or just poor publishing logistics. It seems to me that it behooves Avatar to get as much Uber into the hands of readers as possible.

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