G.I. Gary Reviews: Mother Russia

December 20, 2017 Author: Gary Viola

“Mother Russia”
Alterna Comics

Art & Written by: Jeff McComsey

”The enemy of my enemy is my friend.” That statement in a nutshell describes the zombie themed World War II tale of Mother Russia.  Taking place in Stalingrad in the winter of 1942/1943, the dead have essentially taken everyone out, except Svetlana Gorshkov, aka: “Mother Russia,” the titular character.

The story starts out simply enough with her living out her days in her tower, but unlike a Disney princess, she’s taking out zombies from her sniper nest. Upon spying a toddler, she descends to the rescue, and that starts the adventure.  Shortly thereafter, they are overwhelmed, and rescued by a German shepherd and her Nazi handler, Major Otto Steiner.

The second issue sets the story. We’re given the background of what happened through the Otto’s perspective. As such, we get a glimpse of his character, and some of his motivations, although I’m sure some are left ambiguous for a reason. The story transitions from the flash back into setting up the final issue, the end goal of this three issue series, getting them all to safety, for the time being at least.

Jeff McComsey is the sole writer/artist for this book. His art style is simple and effective.  His heavy line work on the Otto and the zombies would look at home on a cartoon like Archer.  He uses thinner lines for Svetlana, the toddler, and the German shepard, and each of those look appropriate for a children’s movie.  The two styles sound different, and are, but they meld together seamlessly.  Another interesting thing about his art is that it is very cinematic.  It’s easy for the eye to follow, and his detailed backdrops provide a sense of placement and angle for each frame.  In the first half of the first issue, the pacing is slightly confusing/rushed. The toddler’s rescue seems a little far fetched only because the rest of the book is so well plotted.  It’s a minor thing I only noticed on a subsequent read through.

Now Jeff’s words in Mother Russia seems to mimic his drawing.  You can’t say that he writes to fill word balloons.  What’s there is necessary for the story, his art doing the heavy lifting overall. The protagonists are believable, and the writing reveals motivations and solidifies character traits, making them complex, and you realize there is a person underneath the ideology that they were fighting for.

I give this series a solid 4.5 out of 5 stars.  I initially picked up the series because of the G.I. Joe homage covers, and was completely surprised with how much I enjoyed it.  Here’s a book where less is more, and succeeds.  This isn’t just another black and white zombie book.  I’ve seen that Jeff plans to revisit “Mother Russia” in 2018, and I’ll be there.

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