Thursday, 16 July 2015

Uber #9 - Avatar Press

UBER No. 9, January 2014
As a magazine partially dedicated to the fictitious Second Battle of Kursk, this edition of Kieron Gillen’s Anglo-American comic book series is arguably a rather apathetic read which, except perhaps for the unsurprising reveal that Katyusha Maria is a Russian superhuman and its extremely gory depiction of the partial mutilation of the “First Battleship Class Uber”, appears to contain little by way of meaningful plot development.

Admittedly the former British music journalist’s graphically bloody disablement of Werner Frei may well have come as something of a shock to the title’s meagre 8,448 followers, and undoubtedly demonstrates that even the “relatively low-intensity halo” of a Red Army Penal Battalion can cause significant harm to one of the Fuhrer’s most formidable living weapons. But such a vicious entrapment of Battlegroup Siegmund by the first Soviet enhanced V2 humans appears a desperately rushed and deplorably short-lived affair; one which regrettably pales in comparison to the seven-week long genuine engagement of 1943 that Gillen was presumably trying to emulate.

Indeed if not for artist Caanan White’s somewhat shameful portrayal of the conflict within a run of three successive double-splash illustrations and two subsequent full panel pages, the enormity of such an extraordinary ‘military’ event could easily have been confined to nothing more than a single five-framed sheet of paper. Although considering the rather lack-lustre quality of the African-American’s pencilling of the super-powered encounter that may not have been all that bad an idea. Especially as the sketcher’s rather grotesque pictures of Russian ‘Panzermensch’ being dismembered by the German Uber’s “enormous circular shuriken of un-doing” is even commented upon by Gillen within the English writer’s internet-based “workblog” and highlighted as something “Caanan wanted basically to do” having only “talked a little about how this attack would work” with the author.

Instead much of the comic's narrative appears to be unnecessarily bogged down simply depicting the dull day-to-day drilling of Stalin’s “one hundred and one” ‘Tank-Men’. This brutal training regime, despite being far less bloody than the events portrayed on the Eastern Front battlefield, proves a particularly tough time for the long-suffering “tank-lady hero of the Great Patriotic War”, Maria. Who for the vast majority of the book appears unable to manifest even the simplest of Uber-related superpowers, despite having been exposed “to raw catalyst as a shortcut.”

Sadly, despite this woman’s pitiful plight at the hands of her unsympathetic comrades, Gillen’s insistence in making the former sharpshooter an exceptionally foul-mouthed individual throughout makes even these ‘character driven’ scenes a tediously tiring read. Something which simply adds to this book’s overall aura of being little more than a weakly written ‘filler’ issue, whose script was badly bereft of sufficient plot developments for a twenty-two page periodical.
The variant cover art of "UBER" No. 9 by Caanan White


  1. So, I gather from your review that you didn't like this issue very much? I had to dig out my TPB just make sure we read the same issue because my views on it are the polar opposite of yours. I'm not saying you're wrong and I'm right. It's just that we like different things and share differing opinions... and thank God for that!
    As for Maria's apparent lack of superpowers, just bide your time. Her time to shine is coming.

    1. Sadly Bryan I wasn't a fan of this issue at all. I really didn't like the artwork for a good deal of it, and I really thought the Second Battle of Kursk was a seriously wasted opportunity. I'm not actually sure though what I was expecting... probably something more akin to the Battle of Paris issue I suppose, and thus became increasingly disappointed as a result. I am though delighted it made you dig out the tpb ;-) Gillen makes it clear that he has big things planned for Maria in his write-up but I didn't take to her very much in this issue unfortunately. As I think I've said I don't think these last four issues have been of the standard set with the colossus confrontation. But hopefully that'll soon change. have you bought the third tpb yet? If so, does it contain the "Uber" Special #1 I plan to review next month?

    2. Fair comments, Simon. I do wonder how much our opinions differ because you read each issue separately and I read them in groups of six via the TPBs? I get to see more of the overall arc in one sitting and that has to affect my judgement of the series. I can tell you that the next two issues are absolute belters, especially issue #11, which shocked me more than any other comic I have read in a very long time!
      As for the third TPB, I have not bought it yet. My expenditure for this month went way over budget. I plan on ordering it early next month. I'll let you know if it does contain the "Uber" Special.

    3. I fear this comic is potentially going the same way as "The Walking Dead"; i.e. more targeted towards the 'binge-reading' graphic novel audience than monthlies. That's not a criticism of TPBs btw, I just prefer comics myself. Interestingly "Injection" also seems to be designed for similar large-scale consumption and disconcertingly before #1 was even released the writer was talking about all the graphic novels for the series he had planned.