Darkest Before the Dawn – Über Volume 3

Über Volume 3
The Allies are in a bit of trouble.  After the devastating attack on London and the death of Winston Churchill at the hands of the Battleship Sieglinde, everyone has been left reeling.  The Germans are not holding back and they are making steady advances in developing their Übers compared to everyone else.  They are pulling ahead and if England or Russia or the United States does not do something soon, Germany could win the war.  Stephanie, the scientist and double agent on the side of the angels has an idea why this is though.  Despite every breakthrough that the Americans make, the Germans are always a step ahead and there can only be one reason why.  One terrible and mortifying reason… a traitor.

Three collections in and Über continues to be as inventive and innovative as it was in the beginning.  With Kieron Gillen at the helm chronicling a history where the world is in an arms race of a very different kind, he does what most would not and gives the Germans the advantage.  Because of that, it creates a world that is on the brink of exhaustion.  The war has lasted a very long time and every nation upon the Earth has taken heavy losses.  If any one of them were to give up, it would make everything that they have gone through for nothing and in the end that is unacceptable.  After Sieglinde’s brutal assault, the world is staggering, for if she can do that, if Germany can accomplish something this unfathomable in the heart of a major city and to a world leader with just one Battleship, the question on everyone’s mind is what is going to follow and what else can they do?

Gillen uses this volume to give a more in depth look at Stephanie who is frustrated that what she is doing is making little headway against the Germans.  She has made a breakthrough, one that could turn the tide of the war, but as soon as she reveals what she knows, the Germans then make the very same discovery.  The only difference between what she is doing and what the Germans are accomplishing is the final outcome of the experiments.  Where Stephanie is able to enhance the bodies of the men, or women, the German scientists are able to do a similar job except with the powers that their men hold.  It is an advantage that the Reich uses without compunction as they not only have superior Battleships, but now they have their Blitzmensch who are able to strike from afar, like super-powered snipers.  It is an advancement that the Allies soon feel the sting of when their fleets start to get torn apart as if they were nothing but paper.

The way Gillen writes this series is probably one of the better things about it, switching styles in the book off and on, from a character’s narration to a third person narrative like a newsreel or a History Channel program.  It is a very interesting way of relating the information to the reader and while it might seem a little strange at first, almost like reading a textbook at times, the uniqueness of it works in its favour and does so quite well.  In fact, it becomes quite thrilling and fairly suspenseful as you know when you get to these parts within the story that big things are going to be happening, even if it is presented in a more, matter of fact way.  It is definitely a different way of telling a tale in comics these days, giving it that big-screen, larger than life feel and is refreshing to say the least.

The book is not all about what Stephanie or the Germans are up to as we get a little bit of story concerning Katyusha, one of the few remaining Soviet weapons as well as finding out what Leah, the American’s Heavy Battleship, looks like, which is really not all that good.  There is a lot going on and Gillen, Daniel Gete and Gabriel Andrade pack the book full of action, intrigue and machinations by everyone whether good guys or bad guys.  You can guess where the story is going, or at least where it is going to end up because no matter how dark the story is or how dominating the villains, the good guys always win.  At least, almost always.  As it is, we will find out soon enough if that comes to pass.

4 out of 5

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