Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Uber Special #1 - Avatar Press

UBER SPECIAL No. 1, March 2014
A rather entertainingly “good single issue” with its “three short stories… digging into the background of the three [German] Battleships” and “the first non-Caanan [White] art”, this “Uber Special” is unlike any of the “hard-backed oversized Kids books” published annually for British children at Christmas, which creator Kieron Gillen has stated influenced the composition of the “one-shot.” In fact this thirty-page periodical, crammed full of Nazis either blowing their own brains out with a Luger, literally melting the faces off of supposed “Versailles criminals” with boiling hot liquid metal, or tearing a man in half whilst being completely naked, would doubtless have left any hapless nine-year-old, ordinarily used to the jokey japes of “Whizzer And Chips” or “The Beano”, scarred for life.

Arguably even the adult-orientated audience of “Avatar Press” publications may struggle with some of this one-shot’s more disturbing plot-points, particularly that of the highly prejudicial Siegfried, who clearly revels in the atrocities his new found powers allow him to commit. It is certainly little wonder that the former music journalist has acknowledged that this “annual” “includes some of the most horrific material” in “Uber”.

Quite possibly because of such disquiet this comic’s opening narrative “The Battle Of The Spree Forest” is easily the least gruesomely gory tale of the over-sized anthology, and actually for the most part is a fairly standard ‘run-of-the-mill’ tale of a super-strong soldier rescuing “untold thousands of civilians… and the remains of the Ninth [Army]” from Soviet soldiers and tanks. Admittedly Daniel Gete’s depictions of the Russians being torn apart, limb by limb, as a result of the German’s halo effect are gratuitously ghastly. But it really isn’t until the Spaniard draws Wenck blowing the top of his head off that the short story becomes especially grisly.

“Toy Soldiers” on the other hand provides little in the way of visual vulgarities and instead focuses upon Gillen’s unsettling depiction of an infant Ubermensch, being taught an unashamedly bigoted lesson by his bitter mother that it was the Jews who “betrayed” Germany and caused “a nation like ours [to] lose”. The young Markus’ fatal reprisal upon an entirely innocent passer-by is incredibly disturbing, especially as the Battleship is so nonchalant in his telling of the anecdote; “It was in the papers the next day. The Jew died apparently.”

Finally by far the most heart-rending of the Stafford-born writer’s fictions is “The Bitter Cup”, a genuinely sad touching tale of love irreconcilably brutalised by the War that is only marred by artist Gabriel Andrade’s disconcerting decision to have the "god of vengeance” entirely naked during her bloody but swift confrontation with a “combatant enhanced to the Level of a V1.”
The variant cover art of "UBER SPECIAL" No. 1 by Gabriel Andrade


  1. I'd go one better than saying this was "a rather entertainingly “good single issue”" and say it was a bloody good read. But then you must have expected me to say that! Yes, it was grisly, disturbing, unsettling and sad as well, as you rightly say. I still lapped it up and barely raised an eyebrow at Sieglinde's nude fight. This being an Avatar Press publication I'm actually surprised there isn't more nudity in the series. Still, it was good to see these background stories of Germany's three mighty battleships and to learn more about what makes them tick.

    1. Many thanks Bryan, and I certainly thought this was right up there as one of the best issues I've read so far. I didn't know of the reputation of "Avatar Press" until after I bought this comic (and financially committed myself to the entire run - as the investment into the first few issues was pretty high). However I'm very aware of it now. But still thought the nudity was rather unnecessary imho. What I am delighted about however is that you managed to get this issue as part of your tpb collection because, my Victorian qualms aside, this is a corking read. I'm very much looking forward to #13 now :-)