“Hate is our prayer, revenge our battle cry!”
A story about Hitler Youth in the dwindling days of World War II is most likely few people’s ﬁrst choice for compelling comics reading, but writer Tony Keaton and artist Andrew Herbst have managed to craft an intriguing and, at times, even emotional story about the things we do in youth and how they affect us in age.
“Do you remember how we would run? Like bolts of lightning, Likes sons of guns. Though we spent years cursing the rain and the thunder. All I want is one more summer. One more storm to run through with my brother.”
At the end of World War II, with the Allies bearing down on them, a pack of children guerilla ﬁghters, calling themselves Werewolves, ﬂee into the mountains of Germany, determined to fulﬁll their word to the Furher after their commander is killed in battle. Oldest boy Hans quickly assumes command, spewing party ideology to keep the younger boys, including his brother Rudi, on track for their mission for the Fatherland, as they make their ﬁnal stand against the rapidly approaching Allied war machine.
Bu,t this story is also being told through the ﬁlter of memory as we also follow one of the survivors, a 40-year-old man going by the name of Johnny, through his mundane life as a meat-cutter in 1970s Chicago, IL. Alone and haunted by his memories of those days, he trudges through the dreary life he’s made for himself, where his best birthday gift is a failed suicide attempt, and seeks a way to redeem himself from the horrors of his past.
Andrew Herbst’s black-and-white artwork has the raw-edged sensibilities of vintage woodcuts, and feels rough and almost 2-dimensional. But, it’s the layout of the artwork that pulls you deeper into the story. Cinematic in nature, it’s not hard to see the artistry inherent in the pans and tracking shots of the frames, beginning with the very opening where boys at simple play merge with the desperate escape of terriﬁed soldiers.
To tell more would only serve to spoil the surprises within this burgeoning gem. This is the ﬁrst of six issues, and I’m looking forward to seeing where they take us in this beautifully intertwined tale of war and redemption.