I just finished reading from the beginning to the most recent issue (#023) of Kieron Gillen’s Über. It’s fairly average, I probably would have stopped reading at some point if it didn’t manage to just keep its head above the waterline of boring (and if I didn’t hate dropping things). It’s not that it’s bad, but it’s also not very good.
It feels incredibly formulaic. Nazi superheroes as well as the more general World War II and superheroes has been done quite a few times at this point and it always seems to cover the same ground. Both thematically, and perhaps most boringly, visually. In the twenty three issues (and one special) that I read there hasn’t been a single shocking event. Literally not once did I think “Oh wow!” I like alternate history and superpowers mashed together, I even specifically like World War II and superpowers mashed together. But Über? It’s just ok.
I mean even the fact its being published by Avatar means you know whats going to happen, every issue you are going to see page after page of entrails splattered about, somebody’s probably going to get their tits out, and somebody will probably be called a cunt. It honestly feels that there isn’t a single comic published by Avatar that that doesn’t describe. The violence is so over the top and gratuitous that even from the preview issue it had already lost all impact, like a horror movie that uses too many jump scares.
At first I thought it was doing something interesting, making the (obviously) entirely unapologetic Nazi’s the protagonists. But it doesn’t even last an issue before it’s all double agents and Britain’s got the (super-powered) bomb. After that it’s just the kind of tedious arms race metaphor one would expect. Most of the character’s are unlikable in a bad way i.e. they are both unlikable and unentertaining. One or two of the characters are good and I keep reading for them, and the vague hope that it might lead to a more interesting modern-day setting as it’s all narrated in retrospect. But I doubt it. So it’ll just be various supers from various superpowers knocking the shit out of one another. What a gloriously novel departure from the norm! (Nearly as amazingly original as the not-Captain America in a recent issue)
The more recent issues also seem to squander previously established characteristics for some of the main characters, unfortunately a common enough issues in comic books but always a bit unfortunate to see. Or perhaps my interpretation of the characters was off. On the plus side the more recent issues are at least a little more entertaining now that they aren’t tied to historical fact (which served as a strait jacket on the early issues in my opinion).
I had to stop reading the author’s comments at the end of each issue, while I like a good bit of his work Gillen’s comments about Über were often a mixture of either amusingly or embarrassingly short-sighted and egotistical. If you want to portray the horror of the eastern front then maybe don’t have page after page of people being melted by cartoon violence? I’ve nothing against portraying the horrors of war, I’ve nothing against comics as art (I’ve enjoyed comics which are both). But I’ve had more than enough of comic writers self aggrandisement, especially when it clearly shows they can’t actually see their own work.
I don’t want to sound unnecessarily harsh. The comic has some good points, the artwork is generally solid and occasionally great (though page after page of melty people is just tedious). It’s not a bad way to spend an hour or two if you fancy some alt history heroics (the wonders of damning with faint praise). I’d get it on loan from a library or borrow it though. I don’t think it’s worth spending money on.
I’m going to re-read The Light Brigade now I think.
Edit: What I actually did was read the first issue of God is Dead. Also published by Avatar (so of course there was guts and tits everywhere). It was so bad I had too google to make sure it was the same Joanathan Hickman I’d read elsewhere. What I discovered is that basically every review agrees that its shite and that it doesnt get better.