Review: Kieron Gillen’s Über

Uber0I’ve been a fan of Kieron Gillen’s comics writing since I discovered Phonogram; in latter days he has even managed to lure me to read more Marvel comics, starting with the excellent Journey into Mystery and then segueing into Young Avengers, in my opinion the shining jewel in Marvel’s crown. Kieron is a very clever writer, skilled at squeezing the last ounce of narrative juice from the comics medium, layering subtext and self-reference and pop-culture into layer upon meta-layer.

Über, being written for Avatar Press, is almost a total change of direction. Über is a war / horror comic, a what-if scenario about supermen, Übermenschen, entering the war on the Nazi’s side. They emerge onto the battlefield in what should have been the last shudder of the Third Reich, the battle of Berlin. Instead, everything changes forever, in most horrible ways. I think Über is very good, but it’s hard to like; that’s part of why it’s good. Present are the horror of the setting, the horrors of war and the horror of the inhuman destruction of human life and spirit; I’d be a little worried about anyone who didn’t find it uncomfortable. The violence inflicted upon people, individually and en masse, is grueling and unrelenting, but it’s never played for thrills. The horror and the evil is not glossed over, if anything it’s made more real, more visceral for the reader.

Naturally, the narrative can’t be spoken of without the art, and Canaan White does an excellent job, continuing with the theme of showing the horror, unflinchingly, without glorifying it. I would absolutely recommend this comic, though not to the faint of heart. Sadly it’s not available digitally yet, so it’s a matter of either picking up the monthlies, or waiting for a hardback collected edition of issues 0 to 5, due around October.

And if you like Über, may I recommend Warren Ellis’ Supergod, also for Avatar Press?

UpdateÜber is now available on Comixology!

Update 2: Supergod is now also available on Comixology!

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