When it comes to alternate history, World War II has become fiction’s go-to destination for what if stories. From Phillip K Dick’s The Man In The High Castle to Tarantino’s Inglorious Bastards, events from WWII have been shaped in a variety of different ways to tell brand new stories. The latest piece of fiction to do this is Son of Hitler, a brand-new graphic novel by writers Anthony Del Col and Geoff Moore, artist Jeff McComsey, and published by Image Comics. As the name suggests, it’s all about the premise of “what if Adolf Hitler had a son?” And with that premise, the creative team have crafted a compelling tale of espionage and sacrifice.
In 1943 a British intelligence agent, Cora, comes across the information that Hitler sired a son during World War I. It’s the kind of information that could break open the war. So with this information, she tracks down the so-called son, Pierre, down in occupied France and plots a plan to assassinate Hitler with his help.
Son of Hitler explores this mission through the lens of an espionage thriller, with plenty of twists and turns, but the most interesting part is the exploration of sacrifice – which comes in two forms. There’s the sacrifice in the line of duty, where those involved give up something in order to achieve a much larger goal. Then there’s a more personal sacrifice, which is seen through Pierre’s mother and the father figure. This is a sacrifice of love instead and helps build Pierre’s character and experiences.
Jeff McComsey adopts a very interesting art style for this graphic novel. His line work is loose, but solid at the same time, and is rounded by soft edges. This especially noticeable in the way he draws the characters, which are expressive in their facial features. They go through a whole spectrum of expressions from anger to shock to satisfaction and adds so much more to the narrative than what the dialogue can do on its own.
You can’t do a World War II espionage story without some action and I delighted to say that this graphic novel’s action is certainly exciting. The action comes in small bursts, spanning a handful of pages at a time, but ultimately feels satisfying. This is because most pages of action have around 6 panels and the reader gets to witness every blow in a fight. There is also plenty of variety in the action too, which means that the action never gets old when it comes around.
From the clothing to the architecture, McComsey has crafted a Europe that actually feels authentic to the era. He has clearly done his research and as a result, I felt more immersed in the world that he has crafted.
Son of Hitler opts for a monochromatic palette, with the use of three colours used at different points throughout the graphic novel. The use of this works quite well at distinguishing acts in the narrative and setting that act’s tone.
The only thing that lets down the art is some shonky perspective. It’s infrequent throughout the 180-page graphic novel, but I did notice it on the rare occasion. That being said, it’s not a deal breaker as it is never anything in the foreground that will take you out of the story. It’s usually found in car tires and the rare background. That being said, McComsey’s art is pretty solid, as mentioned in previous paragraphs and a bit of odd perspective shouldn’t discount all of the positives.
Overall, Son of Hitler is a compelling read and there’s plenty to like about it. While many people would be drawn in by the big what if that the story proposes, it’s the gripping espionage that threads throughout the narrative and the art that will keep them reading. While it does have some panels with odd perspective, Son of Hitler looks fantastic with expressive characters and authentic settings. Whether you’re a World War II buff or not, I highly recommend Son of Hitler.