Über

Last night news broke on Bleeding Cool about the oft-teased Avatar Project 2. It’s called Über. There’s more art in the post.

We’re starting with a $3.99 double-sized (44 pages of comics) issue 0 in April. Just to front load an essential piece of buying info, y’know?

Despite that I’ve been calling it Avatar Project 2 in blog posts, it was actually Avatar Project 1. THE HEAT came later. William approached me in 2008, right at the start of my career, and talked about doing some work for him. He had some core ideas that he thought would work well as Avatar books and thought I’d suit one. The core of this was basically “Germany invents superheroes in WW2, prompting an arms race between them and the allies. Deal with any and all of the genuinely horrific stuff.”

So I went away, worked out whether I had anything to say, decided I did, went and did my research and then came back with a 25,000 word series bible planning out the whole thing.

I’ll be talking about its ideas as we progress, but I wanted to do a war comic with almost none of the genre tropes. There isn’t a single raised eyebrow. This is done entirely straight, made with the leap of faith that you can say something serious about the worst conflict in human history via the genre.

It’s serious work. It’s obviously phenomenally violent. It’s written with the sense of moral outrage that WW2 has to provoke. I’m angry when I’m writing it. I can’t write about WW2 without being angry. Since I conceived it, I find myself thinking about reviewers who say I seem to be more interested in villains than heroes in my work. I suspect Über will provide more fuel for that particular argument.

As I said, I’ve tried to purge the majority of the tropes of the genre. This is a book that, if you run with its assumptions, takes itself seriously. It’s a book that is more concerned with large scale strategy and economic production. Technological advancement and R&D is key. The heroism tends to be desperate and futile. A tradition of the genre is that a weaker hero will overcome a stronger one. There’s none of that here, any more than a tank is anything but a target when a gunship pops over the horizon. It switches between those decisions between men poring over maps and the lives they’re ending as they push pieces around the board. As the size of the bible suggests, the world building is considerable and the plan is complete. I could end the series at any point by going into a documentary-style comic. While the title shows that the Wunderwaffen of the Germans precipitate the situation, this uses all the major players and all the major theatres. So far I’ve written everyone from Churchill to Hitler, from Guderian to Turing. Its scope is large, to say the least.

It’s overthought. It strives to be credible. It’s as ethical as I can make it. It’s dark as hell. I think it’s good.

I wrote the issue 0 in 2008 (If you remember this blogpost, this was me planning the issues’ structure). Caanan had to work on other projects for a couple of years, before returning last year. There’s now 7 issues worth of comics in the can (0-5) and I’m starting writing issue 10 next week. I’d be surprised if it was less than 30 issues. It’s openly strange for something that I conceived so long ago to come to light, but part of me thinks it may make a lot of sense.

Über is out in April with a double-sized issue 0 for $3.99.

Hi Kieron,

I came to appreaciate your work through JiM and really liked what you did there. Since you took over my favourite book Iron Man from Matt Fraction, who did tremendous work there I was very wary, but the first 5 issues have been great so far. Young Avengers is also a must for me since Loki is part of it.
But this new project makes me as a german very uncomfortable. The germany in such books are either simpl,y evil because they are germany (or they are germany because they are evil?) or they are tremendously stupid, because they follow a few evil man. They only books that don’t use those very simple characterisations are those that just omit the reason for the war, which is in itself not very satisfying for a war book either.
I think much of you as a writer and so hope that your take will be something different, esspecially since this is something creator owned where much more of the money I pay for this book will land in your pocket. I hope you can somehow dispell my fears without giving to much away.

Hi Stefan

I understand your reservations. This is totally a project I entirely understand people wouldn’t want to read full stop, no matter if I executed it well or badly. I’m not entirely sure I can say anything here that would help either, without going into a bunch of details. If you’re willing to give it a try, the first issue is dense enough and long enough to show my hand.

I’ll say this: Issue zero starts toward the close of the battle of Berlin, focused on the Germans and the Soviets. I’m writing from both sympathy and anger.

And I’m uncomfortable about it too. There’s little about WW2 that doesn’t make me uncomfortable. The ethics of writing about real wars in fiction is something I pay close attention to.

Really looking forward to this, sir! I stopped reading Big Two comics just as you were starting S.W.O.R.D., which regrettably means I’ve been waiting patiently for new Gillen work to read ever since the end of the last Phonogram. Will the normal issues of Über be $3.99 as well?

Just realized that Avatar is not available digitally :(
I guess I will see what my pulllist looks like in april and if there is any room on there I will order this book from somewhere. I’m still intrigued and the fact that you are NOT trying to “sell” it to me helps too.

I wasn’t going to comment at first, but I haven’t been able to stop pondering this. Like Stefan, I am German (though I have lived in the US for over 7 years now) and am sensitive to treatments of WW2 in modern pop culture/media. I am not so much worried about the representation of Germans per se, so far as they don’t become entirely ridiculous in ways that are disrespectful to the victims of what happened because it becomes easy to just laugh WW2 off. After all, it was every single German citizen who shaped the outcome (I don’t buy the I didn’t know anything crap), not just political leaders employing a machinery of fear. I speak from a mixed background, where one side of my family hid Jews, the other was part of the party stashed signed copies of Mein Kampf & a uniform in the attic where we found them after they died. I am sure you are very well aware of the points I’ve touched on, and I know from what I’ve read (devoured/obsessed over, let’s be honest) of your work that you aren’t the type to write simplistic, superficial things. Also, there have been great works of literature/film/etc. exploring this matter and demonstrating valid points or simply making accessible the horror/terror of the whole thing, so I am not saying that WW2 should just be left alone – quite the opposite, I think it’s imperative that it not be made easy to forget.
What makes me very, very uncomfortable with regards to Über is the dichotomy between your statement that this is a serious book, a book devoid of tropes and the cover (large chested Valkyrie-type women in too tight black leather that doesn’t look like anything likely to have been around in WW2 Germany with or without super heroes – quite stereotypical) and, well, super heroes. I enjoy super heroes (and villains) quite a bit, but they are a trope in themselves and really, if we run with the assumption that they were created as super weapons, then that is altering the entire reality of WW2, and I thought you said you were writing a serious book about WW2 and what happened. This seems rather an alternate version that you and your opinions on how any and all involved nations would react will shape, which in turn makes me wonder – why WW2? There was plenty of actual violence and bad stuff, and plenty of actual radically new warfare methodology employed in WW2. I mean, sure, I don’t mind a good fantasy, and find it entertaining, and in rare cases (e.g. Inglorious Basterds) that works out with WW2, but nevertheless the serious war book element gets lost, at least for me.
All my ramblings aside, obviously it’s entirely your business what you deem worthy to write about, and whether or not I like it shouldn’t worry you too much. I doubt I am the intended audience. Nevertheless, I think you are a fantastic writer, and so I am torn between wanting to give it a chance and staying the hell away from what I feel can only end up being one of those eye roll inducing Nazi treatments (at least the lady on the cover looks like it) I wish wouldn’t make it easy for people to take WW2 lightly.

Again – you have every right and are welcome to just ignore me, but I’d love to hear your thoughts about this. However you decide to take this comment, no offense was intended.

Hello,
Not knowing you, i am trying to refrain from judgement. but considering how avatar has been pushing white power/nazi propaganda lately, its hard not to see this book as battle call for white supremicists, neo-nazis and other similar pieces of shit. be wary of what bed you are making here and before you go waving flags you better know what they stand for. Metzger would love to see this, shame on you and avatar. i for one am absolutely disgusted, and i can only hope that comic readers the world over boycott avatar and your products. you betray your humanity with this garbage.

PS: fuck bleeding cool as well (another product of avatar) for thier hidden hitler and swastika ‘emoticons’.

better keep vigilant, people WP/nazism has been on the rise all over the worls in a big way. no time for games,speak up or get shipped to the next batch of camps. avatar is helping to pave the way!

Well I can’t speak for Avatar, though I haven’t seen any white power or Nazi propaganda in their comics, but I am Head Writer of Bleeding Cool and I certainly haven’t meant to hide any Hitler or Swastika emoticons. Where might I find them?

up your ass maybe? ask seifert where they are hidden, ive got the screen capture to prove it.

i saw the nazi cover, the KKK cover & more via YOUR site BC! did you notice the stormfront comment in Ferals?or the swastika-like ‘rune’ on that ferals cover? not to mention how bc covered up for eris Trautmann’s ‘slip’ about how he’d rather be nazi then accussed of being zionist!

now this shit, wake up and stop helping the enemy. for fucks sake one of your own writers was beaten in Greece by the ‘golden dawn’! the spread of WP and neo-nazi activity is no joke!

pretty easy to find rich, here it is for people who want to see it, before BC erases it.

http://www.bleedingcool.com/forums/dc-comics/64947-so-what-hell-going-dc-right-now-8.html

did someone actually erase the link? wow

once again, swazis a’la bleeding cool:

http://www.bleedingcool.com/forums/dc-comics/64947-so-what-hell-going-dc-right-now-8.html

Unless I’m mistaken, It never posted, QP. The spam-reader read it as suspicious as you were posting links. I just approved them now.

At a glance, those emoticons are picture links to off-site content. They’re nothing to do with BC.

I’m leaving the comments so Rich can see them, but will probably delete the lot afterwards.

odd, im sure i saw them post earlier. and for being upront about your plans to delete

KG,

I’m Russian born and totally support this project. Having said that, you’ve already fucked up my boy Colossus, and now it appears you’re gonna have Nazi’s rip the Soviets new assholes. All I ask is that the Russians eventually get some revenge on the fucking Nazi bastards. I’m adding this to my pull list when I visit my local funny book shop this Wednesday. I’m out!

QP: It’s more for the rest of the stuff rather than the first post. That said, as it was a message to me, I could delete it and it wouldn’t matter. It’s not personal. It’s just decorum of the place.

I considered writing a sentence along the lines of “The Nazis are the bad guys” in the original post, but decided there was no was to phrase it that didn’t sound patronising.

The idea of the Nazis getting a superhuman is like the idea of them having an Atomic Bomb. This is a fucking awful thing. We should be scared.

Suiciety:The Soviets do get the initial brunt, as the covers suggest. Frankly, the scale of the Soviet casualties in the real WW2 is one of the things that’s in the heart of the book. I hope it works for you.

thanks for the even explanation.

but this project looks like it will aggrandize nazis. in addition, it produces material that can easily be used for propaganda. comics also make a great recruitment tool.
please dont feed the enemy.

also, yes. my attitude sucks, delete away.

I must admit – when I first saw the cover, I thought “So, Warren Ellis made fourth part of his trilogy?”. Which is a good thing – I haven’t a good read from that corner of superhero genre since Supergod and end of Irredeemable.

on the other hand, reading thi blog post made me a bit worried. I’ve seen what “frutrated” you can do, a.k.a. certain depressing comics with number #645. I fear what “angry” you can unleash.

Darklord: I wouldn’t feel bad about being filed alongside them. It was concieved after the first but before the other two, I believe. It’s a more naturalistic and less darkly parodic work than Supergod, despite the premise.

I loved Supergod. There’s few books that make me laugh and scare me to shit simultaneously.

Just wanted to confirm that I added Uber to my pull list a couple or so weeks ago. I’m still pissed at you for doing my boy Colossus wrong though. But I still like you for the prose you spit in funny books. Now answer my questions over at Formspring! :)