Saturday, 16 January 2016

Uber #20 - Avatar Press

UBER No. 20, November 2014
Despite in many ways avoiding the gratuitously graphic grisliness of “dynamic artist” Caanan White’s usual warfare-based bodily mutilations, Issue Twenty of “Uber” must still have proved a rather unsettling experience for its 6,303 readers with its brief insight into the world of “the German propaganda cinema” machine and “dwelling on Josef Mengele”. Indeed, in his Afterword even creator Kieron Gillen admits a certain ‘trepidation’ in having such “a genuine monster of a human” as the Schutzstaffel officer being placed so prominently within his comic’s storyline and as a result ensures that even the Nazis who work alongside the physician are shown to be concerned as to the man’s questionable morals; “Sankt thought him a crank and a sadist. I do not think him a wise choice to run whatever you’re doing here…”

Any doubts or quibbles as to the anti-Semitic’s inclusion within this narrative however are swiftly set aside when it is revealed just what medicine is being practiced within the wards of Flakturme III in Berlin, where those enhanced humans unfortunate enough to require the services of a surgeon must withstand being ‘remade’ without anaesthetic and courtesy of an unpractised distortion field. As the Reich Minister Goebbels himself states who else but one who suffers “a complete lack of moral squeamishness” could be placed in charge of such a “delicate” project?

Just as impactive, though far less bloodily illustrated, is the Red Army’s “first deployment of Maria Andreevna’s Halo Effect in combat.” Gillen manages to wonderfully capture the Kremlin’s mixture of zeal and nervousness surrounding the Soviet sniper’s “total annihilation of the second Ubermensch army group” by allowing the audience to briefly ‘overhear’ a discussion between Zhukov and Stalin as to why the Russian General would send their “battleship-class ubermensch” south when “the northern [German] thrust is at Smolensk” and thus “barely 200 miles from Moscow.” Only then, when it is clear that Katyusha is fighting the Great Patriotic War on her terms, not her superiors, does the action finally turn to her formidably abrupt vaporisation of “upwards of 100 panzermensch deployed… primarily around the stronghold of Kursk.”

Frustratingly, such a dialogue-laden script does not arguably lend itself to the vibrant drawing style of Canaan White. The African-American lead artist is at his best “moving the position around” and “using radical panel shapes and breaking” in order to help tell the story. Unfortunately this book’s rather sedentary tale provides little opportunity for such fast-paced plotting and as a result, despite the penciller’s earnestness to “make sure I pump out high quality art”, causes many of his figures to appear rather roughly-hewn and awkward-looking.
The regular cover art of "UBER" No. 20 by Caanan White


  1. I take on board your criticisms of this issue, Simon, but they did not bother me as much as they did for you. For me, what made this issue so enjoyable was seeing just how easily and effectively Maria performed at Kursk. She is growing ever more powerful and it is little wonder the Russian High Command fear her so much. In the next issue, she takes centre stage and... I shall say no more. Just enjoy it!

    1. Cheers Bryan. I did think this was a well-written issue but also thought Caanan's artwork wasn't up to his usual standard. I have also read the next issue - I always do as soon as I've written an "Uber" review - the sign of a good comic imho :-)