SON OF HITLER by Anthony Del Col, Geoff Moore, and Jeff McComsey
Art
Characterization
Plot
Summary
While the plot has its confusing moments and some of the characterization suffers a bit, the overall experience of SON OF HITLER is a surprisingly good one. With a fantastic homage to 1940's art and a high intensity story, this is definitely one to keep an eye on.
87 %
History Informs Fiction
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World War II acts as one of the darkest times in human history. While other wars showcase greater death counts and sometimes, sadly, more horrific atrocities, World War II is largely considered the first broadcast war. For the first time, people could go to the local cinema and witness the worst of the war firsthand. This means that those events cast a darker shadow on people’s hearts. World War II was also a war of secrets. While we know so much about the warfront, the depths of the spy underworld and the lengths governments took to eliminate Adolf Hitler go intentionally unnoticed. This makes stories like Image Comics’ upcoming release SON OF HITLER so damn interesting. Writers Anthony Del Col and Geoff Moore and artist Jeff McComsey cut right to the heart of the war’s hidden underbelly.

Do note that there will be some minor plot spoilers throughout this article. However, most of these details can be found in the graphic novel’s summary. Still, if you are entirely anti-spoiler, than you can scroll down to my final thoughts and check out my review box for a more general review.

Why Does Superman Endure?

“In wartime, truth is so precious that she should always be attended by a bodyguard of lies.” This quote by Sir Winston Churchill acts as the epigraph and a perfect summary for SON OF HITLER. Set in the closing years of the war, readers follow Cora Brown, a British spy assigned to end Hitler’s life. In 1943, three Nazi soldiers arrive off the coast of Dover, England with information for MI-6. What Cora learns from these officers changes the face of the war forever. Hitler has a son. More importantly, the tyrant is desperate to find this piece of his legacy. Cora sees this as an opportunity like no other to strike at der Führer. Now, she need only convince the son, a young French baker, to go along with her plan.

On the Warfront

SON OF HITLER
SON OF HITLER, Page 2. Courtesy of Image Comics

SON OF HITLER has a fantastically high-paced narrative that takes readers on an adventure through some of the war’s forgotten landmarks. The story largely takes place in German-occupied France, with brief visits to Hitler’s Berlin bunker and the USA on V-J Day. The French setting managed to hold my interest throughout. Even with the profusion of WWII fiction, the French countryside doesn’t receive as much focus as other locations. More importantly, the action and the subterfuge that takes place in these locations feels just as gritty as it should. This story never strays past the bleakness of the war setting, which makes sense for someone living in that era.

Sadly, I do have one concern with SON OF HITLER. While its fast pace usually acts as a boon, it does force some awkward scene transitions on the narrative. Most of these occur during time or location jumps. One moment, Pierre and Cora are battling German soldiers in the streets of Lille, while the next, they are in the woods looking for the French Resistance. These jumps took me out of the story more than once as I tried to reorient myself. They were momentary at worst, so others may not have the same problem. Some of these moments needed a slower pace. I also find it odd that Del Col and Moore never mention the German Concentration Camps. I understand that they may have cut away from the French setting, but even in discussions of Hitler’s atrocities, these weren’t brought up.

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Staring Down the Barrel

SON OF HITLER
SON OF HITLER, Page 3. Courtesy of Image Comics

SON OF HITLER’s strongest element comes in the form of its lead character Pierre. His character doesn’t have a ton of depth in the grand scheme of things. He suffers from major bouts of rage, and he grew up angsty and poor. However, I really appreciated the fact that Del Col and Moore really leaned into these character traits. Pierre’s character arc really takes place before the story. As a child, his rage was far more pronounced, but under the guiding hand of his baking mentor, he gained some peace. This all ends when the Germans kill his mentor. This moment in itself does two things. It immediately undoes any growth this character has gone through while also giving him deeper motivation. This is masterful story work that puts readers on Pierre’s side almost immediately.

I am torn about Pierre’s partner, Cora, though. Her character rarely gets her moments to shine for the first half of the story. All that we see is her growing obsession with Hitler’s death. This works, especially when we see how willing she is to sacrifice other lives for her crusade. This obsession isn’t fully explored, but it works for this character. Still, she doesn’t gain any real sense of growth until SON OF HITLER’s second half. Here, the character really comes into her own as Pierre passes her the baton. Suddenly, she is the character that takes charge and doesn’t put up with anyone’s belittling. The character growth here doesn’t have a ton of impetus, but in the span of a couple pages, Cora becomes one of the coolest women in comics. I want to know so much more about the character after finishing the story.

The Golden Age

SON OF HITLER
SON OF HITLER, Page 4. Courtesy of Image Comics

What I appreciate most about SON OF HITLER is its commitment to feeling like it came straight from the 1940s. This is equally true for Jeff McComsey’s brilliant art. His style reminds me of a 1940’s comic book with modern storytelling sensibilities. The overarching narrative only works because of the framing McComsey uses with each page. The story feels very cinematic, especially in the opening pages. I love the way McComsey pulls readers directly into this story by using an upward shot of Cora and other MI6 soldiers on a rain-drenched dock. It feels like a dark spy movie in the best possible way.

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I also want to bring up the simplicity of McComsey’s style. Some readers may not warm to the less-than-realistic anatomy, but I personally really liked it. As I said, this comic has a very 1940’s style to it. Due to printing restrictions, most of the art during that time was fairly simple. This makes SON OF HITLER feel more like an homage than anything else. It dips into the source material with ease and precision. I especially appreciated McComsey’s monochromatic color style. It again plays into the black and white stylings of the 1940 age. Immediately, this story feels incredibly authentic, with just the right touch of noir intensity to draw readers in.

Final Thoughts: SON OF HITLER OGN

SON OF HITLER is a fantastic what-if graphic novel. Though based somewhat on true events, i.e. Hitler’s illegitimate French son, the story takes this concept and blows it up into a fantastic spy epic. While the story has some room to grow in its characterization and plot, the overall experience is one I will remember for a long time coming. Del Col, Moore, and McComsey have created a narrative that appeals to a whole slew of audience types, from historians to those who simply love a good action flick. And I don’t think that can be understated. This is a story that a lot of people are going to (and should) read.

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