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Home >Mint-lounge >Features >Katusha: Kiev on fire

Since pixels are free, there are several Web comics that are more like TV shows, with long narrative arcs and “seasons", than graphic novels. You can binge-read these series. Searching for something to spend the weekend with, I settled on Katusha, written and drawn by Wayne Vansant and available on Katushagirlsoldier.com.

In popular culture, World War II has generally been seen from the perspective of the Western Allies. But, as the quote goes, “The war was won with British intelligence, American steel and Russian blood." Katusha is a welcome change, showing the war through the eyes of a Ukrainian teenager who starts as a guerrilla and eventually becomes a Red Army “tank man". Vansant, who has made a name in the subgenre of military comics, is best known for drawing The ’Nam, in which his scrupulous attention to detail first came to the fore. Military comic geeks are excellent at spotting vehicle models or weapons and will immediately notice errors.

We follow Ekaterina Tymoshenko as a girl in her native Kiev, which is overrun by the Nazis. At first they welcome the invaders as liberation from Soviet rule, but soon the scales drop. What follows is furious action as our drop-dead gorgeous heroine and her sister take up the fight.

Vansant skilfully weaves the saga of the Tymoshenkos, who are separated in the chaos, into the macro picture of history as it unfolds. We cut from Adolf Hitler planning the war with his generals to this little family in Kiev. The script keeps pace with the action. The “winds of fate were blowing on the madly-swinging door of history, and only the hinge of Stalingrad would determine on whom it would slam shut", is how the decisive third act of the script is introduced.

Vansant’s art, whether depicting ruins or frost-covered Ukrainian forests, finds beauty everywhere. A column of Soviet tanks churning up the snow becomes a dreamlike scene, while a shattered town becomes a giant maze where Soviet and German tanks hunt each other.

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