sankt! What-- Why are you here?
Sir: I command the only fully-operational military force in the Reich.
I have a family. At this late date, itâ€™d be obscene to become another corpse.
To the contrary: to lose after our sacrifices would be the only obscenity, sir.
decisive movement is paramount. instantaneous action is required. we need you, general. And itâ€™s obscene of you to even consider throwing more men into the flames.
Sankt! Zhukov is choking Berlin. The Reich is overrun. it is over! The war is over.
WiTH ALL DUE RESPECT, SiR. THAT REMAiNS TO BE SEEN.
And whose surrender-rag is this?
it doesn’t mean surrender. it’s a red cross. Just lipstick and a bedsheet.
NO. WE DON'T HAVE ANYTHiNG.
HOPiNG THEY WOULDN'T AiM AT A--
YOU HAVE MEDiCiNE?
Snivelling in the dark? When the Reich needs you most?
You two aren’t worth a bullet.
Get them outside. With any luck, they’ll be minced by the Gods of War.
for now. The Russians will be coming through here on the way to hanging Hitler from the Brandenburg gate. You need to move. ShitShitShitShitShit
stop that. it’s almost over. at least we’re alive.
Maybe. But the cellar is deep. At least we’re not going to be bombed.
You know what they’ll do when they get here. Shush. Don’t scare them.
BUT REALLY? BETTER THAT THAN A BOMB ON OUR HEAD.
Have you found an...
<No, Sir. Not here.>
<BED. > <Sir, thereâ€™s no girls here.>
<in Godâ€™s name, no. Just...>
<Hide Girl Good.>
<Should never come Russia.>
Anything special here, Professor?
When we’re working, why always “Professor”? Wilheim would be fine. I won’t object. in fact, I’d positively welcome it.
I know you’re not shy... THEN PROFESSiONALiSM iT iS. iN HERE, YOU'RE PROFESSOR METZGER AND I'M DOCTOR BERGEN.
AND WHAT DO WE HAVE?
I’m either very shy or prefer strict professionalism, Professor. What do you think?
Standard untermensch selection. Let’s get on with this.
East-European stock. Poles, mainly.
<I TOLD YOU! THEY STARVE US AND NOW THEY'LL FiNiSH US OFF. DEATH CAMPS! THiS iS-->
<What’s your name?>
<it’s just mostly a deathcamp.>
<I’m Marek. Marek...> <Marek, this isn’t a deathcamp.>
<This is about something else. it’s about winning a war.>
<I’m sorry, Marek.>
<This is necessary.>
bout five years ago, before I had written anything in the genre, William approached me and asked if I’d be interested in writing a superhero book set in World War 2. Core conceit would be that Nazi Germany, at some point in the conflict, invents some manner of enhanced humans prompting an arms race. Done in an Avatar style (as in, no limit on content). Any interest? I wasn’t sure. But I thought about it, did my preliminary research, and came back with a 25,000 word bible, describing the whole series, its mechanics, its economics, its aesthetics and everything else. I believe it was originally meant to be pure work for hire, but when William saw this document he suggested making it a creator participation thing. I wrote the first monster of a script shortly after, and have been working on the later scripts ever since. At the time of writing, I’m up to 10. If I just keeled over, there’s enough in the bible for someone to write the rest of the story. It’s that kind of document. A year or so later, I was introduced to Garth Ennis by William as “the guy who wrote that bible”. Garth quirks his head: “You’re a bit keen, aren’t you?” My
head hangs: you bloody swot, Gillen. A whole series in a document. I seemed to have a lot to say for something I originally suspected I’d have said no to. I had reservations. Half of them were ethical, which I’ll probably talk about down the line. The other half were simply that powered humans in WW2 isn’t virgin territory. You’ve got comics from the war period integrating real world figures for propaganda, and that influence percolates through the big-two universes to this day. You’ve got 80s revisionist comics and their intellectual descendants playing with it as a detail in their world-building (Zenith and Tom Strong leap to mind, coming from polar positions. More recently, Garth’s The Boys.) In neighbouring genres, Nazis are a perennial in supernatural action. Zombie Nazis. Fucking Zombie Nazis, which is as good a model of actual monsters being turned into nice, safe fiction as is currently popular. The scary thing about monsters is that they’re people. I’m sorry. This is a book mainly written from anger and despair. It’s going to come out. Anyway: after thinking about all that, I hit what I realised was my angle.
I’d take it seriously. It’s probably the least ironic book I’ve ever written. There are no nods, no winks, no meta. It has nothing to say about superhero comics. It has no interest in other superhero comics. In fact, its utter negation of that genre-centricism may be the closest it comes to commentary. I’ve read many books which seem to labour under the delusion that the conception of Superman was the most important moment in the 1930s. This isn’t one of them. My only interest is in how I can use this genre’s conceit to create metaphors to explore aspects of WW2 – specifically, how it relates to the human condition and what it says about us. Clearly, as I’m not Garth Ennis, this involved a bunch of research. There was one time when German friends were visiting my house, and they found me in my front room, with a map of Berlin circa May 1945 on the table, with the World At War silently playing on the television, a pile of Nazi biographies sitting beside me and Wagner blaring. I was apologetic as only the British can be. As in, constantly and annoyingly. WW2 is an area that attracts experts. I beg forgiveness for anything of any significance I missed, as my (rightful)
paranoia knows there must be something. For those who know less about the period, if you want to read more about the battle of Berlin, I’d recommend you start with Berlin: The Downfall - 1945 by Antony Beevor. That was my entry point on this, and whose influence shows most strongly. You should go back to his Stalingrad as well. Every second paragraph reading them I found myself putting the book down and either thinking “Holy Shit” or wanting to write something about it. In terms of history, I’m not primarily interested in the tank-tread fetishism. I’m interested in what these extremes of existences did to human beings, and Beevor is phenomenally strong on the human detail. Seriously, read it. I’d rather you do that than read the rest of this series. In the end, I didn’t want to write a book about superhumans. I wanted to write a book about humans and their relationship with power. I hope you find it fascinating and compelling. I hope you don’t enjoy it. Thank you for reading.