Recently I went to my local comic shop (New Wave Comics in Skippack, PA) to pick up an absurd number of comics they’d been holding for me. Of course, as usual, I had a poke around the trade paperbacks that they have in as they often differ from the ones we carry at the store, and I stumbled upon this great volume.
From the publisher marketing:
NAZI OCCUPIED RUSSIA, 1942. FIGHT HARD. SHOOT STRAIGHT. DO NOT LET THEM TAKE YOU ALIVE.
SARA is a gripping war story following a team of female Russian snipers as they beat back the Nazi invaders during a brutal winter campaign on the WWII Eastern Front.
I genuinely wasn’t sure how I was going to feel about Sara. I mean, first off, her name’s spelled wrong, but we’ll forgive her for that, it’s not her fault. Second, I’m not always the biggest fan of the more superhero/traditional (?) style of illustration in graphic novels, I tend to prefer more cartoon-y, chibi-style illustrations. But those things aside, I’m delighted to report I really enjoyed it!
The story is very well crafted – whereas some graphic novels I’ve read lately have been clunky and poorly paced, Sara is a great example of the craft of graphic novel writing. It is a stand-alone volume (the ending pretty much concludes the story but with a slight hint that things could go differently) and the characters are surprisingly well defined and you empathize with them a great deal. Even though the vast majority of women have never been snipers, you feel for their plight and celebrate their camaraderie.
It’s a fitting pairing for Svetlana Alexievich’s The Unwomanly Face of War in that it focuses on the women who served for their motherland, the Soviet Union during the war. It acknowledges, as well, that while the Nazis and Fascists are evil, the motherland is problematic as well. I most appreciated Sara’s opinions of both her work and her “home.”
Rating: 9 out of 10