I managed to pick up the Mother Russia graphic novel, that was part of FUBAR Press’s Kickstarter for the project back in 2013, at C2E2 this year and I’m glad I did. I originally had issue 1 and 3 of the full-size comic release but never got issue 2 so have been holding this review for too long. It’s a good thing though, because the graphic novel is packed with extra stories, features and art that wasn’t available in the comic run. The book, by Jeff McComsey is put out by indie publisher Alterna as part of their huge collection of creator owned books.
The book itself is like any traditional graphic novel, bound in a card stock cover with art front and back, and coming in at the same size as most other graphic novels or manga. The Kickstarter book includes a couple of shorts at the end that I do not believe were in other collections, as well as portraits of backers who donated enough to get that reward tier. The bulk of the book is the 75 page comic story, and includes 4 short stories at the end. Finally the last 8 pages list all of the backers in a thank you acknowledgement and capped off with a couple of pieces of guest art pin ups.
Set in Stalingrad in 1943, Mother Russia follows a young Russian sniper that finds herself one of the last surviving people among an army of zombies. She watches it all fall apart from the safety of her tower, which she has stocked with ammo, provisions, and tools. She spends her time killing zombies from her tower when she spots a child that has wandered into the midst of the living dead.
Svetlana Gorshkov was a ballet dancer before the war. She chose to serve her country as a soldier rather than a dancer, and became the most feared sniper in Stalingrad. When the war winds down, and the dead rise up, she finds herself alone in a city of corpses. The story opens as Mother Russia, as Gorshkov is known to her enemies, finds her sights trained on a living child wandering among the undead. A rush to save the child sparks this tense adventure through the streets of Stalingrad, together with a Nazi survivor and his dog.
The story went by too quick, which is a good thing, and bad. I wanted more when we got to the end, and thankfully the Kickstarter book had some added shorts after the main story, but I really hope they do more with this character. It reads quickly, because you want to know what happens on the next set of pages. The panels are packed with action and move with a sense of urgency that helps convey the feel of the story itself.
The art, like every book from the FUBAR line, is dark, gritty, dirty, helps portray a world full of death and zombies. The deep blacks and overall grays bring the world of Mother Russia out in a way that I think color would ruin. Movement is conveyed well, as is emotion on the faces of the characters. Even sound comes across well, whether it be the sound of a bullet piercing a zombie skull, or the loading of a round into the chamber of a scoped Mosin-Nagant.
This is a great read, but like I said, too short…in that I want more. If you like zombie stories, or just want something new to read I think you’ll enjoy Mother Russia. Look for the individual issues at your local shop in the back issues, or pick up a copy online. For the best value though, I’d recommend picking up the Kickstarter book with the white border cover and extra stories. More art and more story are always better when it’s a good read.