Review: Mother Russia TPB
Having survived the zombie apocalypse that ended World War II, Svetlana Gorshkav, also known as ‘Mother Russia’, risks everything she has built for the life of a small child. Understanding Svetlana’s willingness to sacrifice the safe life she has created for a stranger’s is truly the heart of this story. Mother Russia works with large ideas such as the value of family, the worth of innocent life, and the indoctrination of political ideals, all while creating a highly suspenseful story of one young woman trying to survive the end of the world any way she can.
The story opens with very minimal dialogue, which helps truly show the lonely life that Svetlana now leads. Her only escapes from the monotony of the highest room of a tower overlooking Stalingrad within which she lives, is to read, exercise, and shoot the zombie horde walking below. This all changes when she sees a small child in her scope and decides to run and save him. Her rescue attempt quickly goes awry until she is saved by a dog named Brunhilde and her owner, Major Otto Steiner. From there, the four begin a plan to move from the shelter they find themselves in, where supplies are running low, towards a place where there is enough food and water to survive a bit longer.
The interaction between the four main characters are truly where the larger aforementioned ideas are truly fleshed out. Writer and artist Jeff McComsey does a fantastic job creating a sense of caring between these characters, especially considering the child and dog cannot even speak. In the midst of the apocalypse, Otto has created an unbreakable bond with the only family member he has left, Brunhilde. Their strong bond is evident every moment they are together. To say Svetlana and Otto become family is a stretch but, their bond is built more on their perceived value of life and how little of it is left. Even though Svetlana does not completely trust him because he fought for the Nazi Regime, she begins to understand how those ingrained political ideologies she learned fighting the German enemy means nothing when the true enemy is not even human. These ideas are very well done and help the story, which could have easy fallen into the ‘just another zombie book’ category, into something more; a very intimate look at humans and the lengths they will go to survive.
The art only helps to enhance the story. The entire narrative is done in black and white, creating a bleak sense of dread. Each zombie looks unique and hideous. The violence of seeing bullets fly through their rotting flesh is appropriately gory. The action panels are well laid out and create a sense of tension as the zombie hordes continue to close in despite the survivors best efforts. The more intimate moments are equally as impressive. The decaying, and dark buildings are haunting. Each room is well detailed and, in many instances, the remains of former lives from before the apocalypse tell a story all their own and help enhance the use of minimal dialogue in many places.
Following the main story are three backups titled, The Sniper, The Child, and Kindern. These three tales help flesh out the history of what happened during the lead up to the zombie apocalypse. Each story is heartbreaking and insightful in its own way but, does take away a bit from the original story by taking some of the mystery out of who these people are. Although, they do add an extra layer of knowledge for the reader as to how this all occurred, even if the reasoning is nothing groundbreaking or new. The art is as solid as the rest of the book, with the art in The Child by Giles Crawford being especially impressive, creating a dreamlike sensation as we follow the journey of the child which Svetlana eventually discovers.
Overall, this is a fantastic story that explores large ideas but never forgets that when the zombies take over, sometimes you just have to fight to survive.
Story: Jeff McComsey Art: Jeff McComsey, Steve Willhite, and Giles Crawford
Story: 9 Art: 8 Overall 8.5 Recommendation: Buy
Alterna Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review