Über #21 (Avatar Press)


CREDIT: Avatar Press

Rating: 4.5/5 – An Outstanding Alternate History of WWII.
by ComicSpectrum EiC Bob Bretall.

Über is Kieron Gillen’s meticulously researched alternate history of WWII that explores the question: What would the war have been like if the Axis and Allied forces had super-powered warriors?  The basic setup is this (from the blurb inside the front cover):

Days before the fall of Berlin, a secret German program for manufacturing enhanced humans turns certain defeat into unlikely victory and starts a whole new chapter in the World War.

That’s the premise of the series, the inside front cover goes on to catch the reader up on more recent events in the series (and I love it when comics do that) but I won’t go into those details here to avoid spoilers.  Of course, like with any arms race, the Allies have their own enhancile program and the series moves to Über vs Über.  And these enhanced humans are not guys in tights punching each other and having a jolly old time.  It’s more like what if this ACTUALLY happened.  It’s war, and as you might expect from an Avatar comic it’s bloody, it’s brutal, and it’s a ripping good yarn.  This issue we get the first battle of the series between two “Battleship class” warriors.  Technically a Battleship class vs. an Übermensch, the allies name the Übers according to power levels after various naval craft, while the Nazis go with names like panzermensch, blitzmensch, and  Übermensch.  The conflict is spectacularly handled by the art team of Caanan White and Daniel Gete, we got a sample of some cool new powers and it left me wanting to see more before switching gears and moving the story forward on the homefront in Bletchley Park, UK.

Yes, this is “mature readers”.  It is violent, it has sex, and foul language, and I love it for what it is.  Don’t hand it to your kid, but it’s a fabulous palate cleansing read for anyone who wants something that is completely different from every other comic that they’re going to read from the Big Two.  I mentioned research.  Gillen reads a lot of history books and he incorporates real elements into the stories as he builds this alternate world and that is what makes this story feel so genuine.  Gillen shows us scenes in Germany, England, and Russia this issue.  We’ve seen the US, and Japan is getting into the picture as well.  The world is the stage of this series as befits a tales chronicling a world war.  It feels appropriately large in scope.

Über is not a series for the squeamish or people easily offended by graphic depictions of what people actually do to and with one another.  But I don’t feel like any of the adult themes are gratuitously inserted into the story.  These elements flesh out the story, move it along, and give a sense of reality to a series that is at its heart a fantastical alternate history of WWII.  If you have not tried Über it could very well be the best war story you’ve never read.  If you don’t mind a story that gets gritty, bloody, and dirty, give it a try.

Reviewed by: Bob Bretall
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