From “Adam Wreck”, a perfect entrée into comic books for kids, we turn our attention to “Mother Russia“, a much darker tale written and illustrated by Jeff McComsky.
Set in the fictional 1943 ruins of Stalingrad just a few weeks after the horrors of war gave way to the horrors of the zombie apocalypse, “Mother Russia” features one of the Motherland’s female snipers holed up in a watch-tower, passing the days by pot-shotting at the undead hordes wandering the streets below.
The ruins of Stalingrad make for a perfect zombie tale. Plenty of corpses. Plenty of ammo. Plenty of supplies laying around ready to be scrounged. Throw in the forced détente between Nazi survivors and Commie survivors, and you’re left with a three way fight with no easy protagonists. To overcome that limitation, McComsky gives you a female protagonist whose vulnerability makes her the easy sympathetic point of view. Add in an early bit of heroics to show that she isn’t the usual sort of Communist monster, and the story easily sucks the reader into its dark world.
Her counterpart and foil and reluctant partner, a grizzled Nazi officer carrying the shade of Otto Skorzeny on his shoulders makes for the perfect partner. Abrasive and difficult to like, particularly given an early betrayal/massacre by his hands, his strength and dedication to duty make his later heel-face turn profoundly satisfying. As with the other titles I’ve read from Alterna, “Mother Russia” presents a strong character piece leavened with moments of action and heroism that represent the best comic books have to offer.
The black and white art is used to good effect to paint the bleak backdrop of Zombie Stalingrad, and the camera never shies from the horrors of war. Add in some unforced cursing, and you get a book that’s not for the younger set, but one for fans of zombie action and darker character studies alike.