Monday, May 8, 2017

When you want your comics to imagine a different ending...

For more information about each of the series, visit the publisher website

DC Comics
Avatar Press
Antarctic Press
Image Comics

(All photos displayed are either public domain or copyright unknown.  If there is an issue please contact me and I'll either place the proper credits, or remove the piece in question.)

As a historian I have always had an interest in the conflicts of humankind.  War is savage, brutal, terrible, and it is something that you cannot look away from.  It involves us all, and if we watch as wars happen and have no passion or sorrow, we really have no heart.

One of the ways of measuring the impact of wars, is to demonstrate what would have happened had the event in question not had the result that in reality it did.  What if George Washington had been killed at the battle of Trenton.  What if America never entered the First World War?  What if King Harold was not shot throw the eye and died at the battle of Hastings?

Every change has an effect down the line.  What Ifs, or, Alternative History allows the viewer, from scholar down to casual reader, to see the importance of what actually happened. 

World War Two was a savage, world wide war, that saw the deaths of more than 60 million humans.

In Storming Paradise by Chuck Dixon and Butch Guice, DC Comics, present a story of enormous change.  First the Manhattan Project fails.  Then the Americans are forced to invade Japan, and find a country that is stubborn and unyielding.  There is no doubt that the atomic bombs were horrific.  But the consequences of failure of the Manhattan Project allows the reader to see how horrible the invasion and result would surely be.

In the Avatar Press series UBER by Kieron Gillen and Canaan White, the end of the war is seen within the grasp of the Allies, when a final wonder weapon is unleashed.  This wonder weapon is not a missile, a giant tank, or new bomb.  It is people who are imbued with super powers, and they are unleashed upon the forces of the Allies, to enormous grievous loss to Allied troops.  The only answer, to the Allies, is that they must develop a similar program and fight fire with fire.

Roy Thomas's Anthem is another superhero story, with a setting of the streets and sewers of America, where the super heroes had to flee at first to escape the Nazi juggernaut as it invaded the US, and succeeded.  Roy Thomas's other comic work often featured WWII, and for my money it was magnificent.  But in this case, sadly, Roy Thomas was given artists who, if talented, were so raw, that much of the time the story was lost for the lack of art skills.  The concept however, and the setting is worthy of being read.  Although I suspect it is hard to find, and won't be expensive, it is a work that leaves the reader both intrigued and frustrated. 

Luftwaffe 1946 is by Ted Nomura and Ben Dunn, through Antarctic Press.  The work is somewhat less serious than it should be, but, this work shows the evolution of warfare should the Nazis have held out, and the world not be finished with war, either in Europe or Asia/Pacific.  The fears of how the Nazis might explode, innovating new and deadlier technology is only made worse by the realization that the Holocaust would have been over, not due to liberation, but by completing their endeavor to destroy the Jews.  I liked this series, and rarely had issues with anything technical. 

Ministry of Space from Image Comics, sees the war in Europe end differently than in reality.  This difference, which I do not wish to spoil, save to say, somehow the Nazi scientists are recovered by the British rather than the Americans, and the British use this technological explosion to become the first nation into space, and beyond.  The writing by Warren Ellis is smooth, and very much able to tell a story that is less ingenious as it is seamless.  The art, that of humans in the military and the machinery of the Ministry of Space, is amazingly drawn, by Chris Weston.  With his penchant for knowing how to depict military machinery and detail every aspect of the world, allows the reader to suspend every ounce of disbelief.  While some reviewers found the end of the work somewhat glib and heavy handed, it worked for me, because the verisimilitude that had been created.  All in all, this work is among my favorites of all time.  Your mileage may vary.

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