Antarctic Press 2021
By Motofumi Kobayashi
1994, in a world like our own, but different. The Soviet policy of perestroika has failed, and General Secretary Gorbachev has been assassinated. Now, a rampaging portion of the Soviet military has resolved to invade the Western Bloc countries, escalating the threat of devastating global conflict. Leading war manga figure Motofumi Kobayashi, creator of the hit series Cat Shit One, delivers a gritty, realistic depiction of a third World War that might have actually happened had there been one wrong move!
One of the first things I noticed was that there weren't any coloured pages, the previous two had them and I checked for ‘em here but alas it was to my chagrin. That was just a side note because it doesn’t change a single thing about how we feel about the story. The story itself is strong, powerful and shows the darker side of those fighting which can definitely make the reader feel uncomfortable. By provoking an emotional response in the reader and having them become engaged in the story on such a level is just the sign of an exceptionally talented individual. I mean the man does it all, he writes and illustrates the book which in and of itself alone would be something to celebrate but to do both at this insane level of quality is extraordinary.
I am very much a fan of the way that this is being told. The story & plot development that we see through how the sequence of events unfold as well as how the reader learns information is presented exceptionally well. The character development that we see through the dialogue, the character interaction as well as how we see them act and react to the situations and circumstances which they encounter which continues to bring their personalities front and centre. The pacing that we see is excellent and as it takes us through the pages revealing more and more of the story the more we are pulled into this world being devastated.
I greatly appreciate the way that this is being structured and how the layers within the story continue to emerge, grow, evolve and strengthen. That scene with the Frau was intense to say the least but it’s moments like this that help add so much depth, dimension and complexity to the story. How we see everything working together to create the story’s ebb & flow as well as how it moves the story forward is immaculately handled.
I am in awe of the level and quality of work that we see within these pages. The linework is exquisite and how we see the varying weights and techniques being utilised to create the attention to detail to such a degree is mind boggling. The way that backgrounds become another character here and how they enhance and expand the moments so brilliantly is impressive as all get out. That they also work within the composition of the panels to bring out the depth perception, sense of scale and the overall sense of size and scope to the story is magnificent. The utilisation of the page layouts and how we see the angles and perspective in the panels show a masters eye for storytelling. The black & white style is as unforgiving as it is beautiful to see and with all the gray tones added for depth and dimension what we get really is akin to a visual masterpiece.
It is in my humble yet esteemed opinion that Motofumi should receive some huge accolades, awards and whatever else is heaped onto him for having such a bold, relentless story and the kind of talent we only dream of seeing yet alone possessing. He is definitely a modern master storyteller and what’s he does here is just another perfect example of this.