The end of the World War II might seem an unlikely time to set a modern superhero story but this science fiction reimagining has been deftly crafted. Kieron Gillen’s story is tightly interwoven into the real events of the end of the war, with key figures like Hitler and Churchill playing significant roles.
In this version of events, Hitler pours more resources into the development of super humans than he does his hardware technology and these Übermensch arrive just in time to repel the Soviets as they enter Berlin, saving the Third Reich from defeat. Luckily for the allies, a plucky British spy has infiltrated the development team so they too have the ability to develop prototype super-humans.
This book leads to a gory crescendo as the two groups face each other for the first time on the battlefield, but it’s the stunning build-up, the knowing references to back-room war heroes (hello Alan Turing), and the balls-out ego of writing believable characterisations of Hitler and Churchill into the story that make the book.
The artwork is explosive. The power of the superhumans comes from their ability the withstand most wartime projectiles (even those fired from a tank), while shooting lightning from their eyes that literally tears people apart. Caanan White shows this process in intricate detail, with blood and guts flowing out of the pages in horrific abundance.
This book’s not for everyone, then, but is a satisfying crossover between war, superhero and sci-fi genres that adds something above and beyond each, thanks to the skill with which it’s all been brought together.