24th Mar2014

Graphic Novel Review: Über – Volume 1

by Paul Metcalf

Written by Kieron Gillen | Illustrated by Caanan White | Published by Avatar Press | Format: Paperback, 176 pp


When I started to read Über: Volume 1 I wasn’t exactly sure how to feel about what I was reading.  With an ambiguous sense of who are the heroes and who are the villains in the first half of the graphic novel, seeing the German people cowering from the Russian army and German soldiers deciding to run from the battle lines instead of fighting, you there is a moment of pity for them.  That is of course until we meet the Übermenschen the Germany secret weapon, super-soldiers.

The super-soldiers are part of an alternative history where Germany fights back in 1945 and Hitler starts to gain some vengeance on the allied powers.  With spies in his ranks though and not everybody agreeing with his actions, there are weaknesses in his plans.  When Stephanie a spy for the British is able to escape and return home, can Churchill form his own group of soldiers to finally end the war?

Über: Volume 1 is a dark comic, and that can be seen in the colour choices used.  With dark browns and blacks a constant on page, the only real vivid colours are that of the destruction and blood, lots and lots of blood.  This is not a comic for the faint hearted and in Über: Volume 1 we are given the first five issues which is a good start to the story.  The idea that Germany is on its knees until the Übermenschen enter the battle is brought to the page well, and the heartless nature of the super-soldiers is clear, they are arrogant and evil in a way we expect Hitler’s elite forces to be.  The fact that almost every page is covered in pictures of people being ripped apart also enforces just how powerful these creatures are, and they have a sadistic love of their power.

In a sense I found myself uncomfortable at times with the almost glamorisation of the super-soldiers, but as we get to know them and see their power you come to realise that there is nothing glamorous about these creations.  The fact they are described as tanks and battleships shows their inhuman nature, they are machines with one purpose and that is to destroy what is left of Europe.  If Hitler can’t have it you do get the feeling that he wants it destroyed.

When it comes to the human side of Über: Volume 1 I found it interesting that both Hitler and Churchill are not created in a way that would make either man likeable.  Hitler is the monster we expect to see, and at that point in history even his military advisors don’t agree with his actions, with hints of his movement towards suicide, it’s also interesting that we see Churchill close to taking his own bullet too showing that he too was at the brink of giving up.  Churchill’s obsession with winning the war also shows his cold side as he pushes people to take actions that may not be morally correct, but will win the war.

With Kieron Gillen writing an impressively dark story of super-soldiers and Caanan White illustrating it with very bloody but stylish visuals Über: Volume 1 at times is a piece of work that makes you think about the effects of war, while still applying the rules of super beings into a very human war.  You may feel wrong for being impressed with the Übermenschen in the early issues, but you’ll soon see the ugly side of their power and the level of destruction they can create.  The fact that to defeat them the Allies have to exploit their own soldiers as the Nazis did, shows the unmoral nature of war and the ugliness it creates in the world.  Thought provoking, gory and very violent it puts the super-soldier idea in a totally new light.

Review originally posted on PissedOffGeek.com

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