Comics Are Trying to Break Your Heart #44 by Drew Barth
Slipping Through the Cracks
Throughout the year, hundreds of comics are released. Dozens of new series begin. Sometimes those new series escape the eye of even eager readers. This happens to me every few months—a series just doesn’t appear on the new release calendar or I simply don’t hear any talk of it from the comic crowd I follow. And that almost happened this last month with the release of issue two of Strange Skies Over East Berlin by Jeff Loveness, Lisandro Estherren, and Patricio Delpeche.
But the strange irony of Strange Skies Over Berlin almost slipping through the cracks is how its story deals with the lies and spies that slipped in and out of East and West Germany in the early 70s. As a story, it is diving deep into the idea of things that are unseen even in a meticulously watched area. When we meet our main character, Herring, we see him trying to slip people through the Berlin Wall as he masquerades as a Stasi operative. The story is so ingrained in the tensions of the era that it’s no wonder the story would shift from the streets of East Berlin to an underground bunker by the end of the first issue.
And then the twist.
During that escape attempt, a massive stream of light flashes above Berlin, landing somewhere on the eastern side. All anyone knows of the strange light is that no one knows what it could be or how it came to fly over Berlin. And of course, with the extreme secrecy of the time, anyone who would know anything about the strange light is maintaining silence.
Until the mystery of the strange light begins to reveal itself to Herring as he is sealed into that underground bunker. The light itself infects people—takes over their minds and bodies until they split open in a blaze of electric light. And for now, that’s all we as the audience know.
Strange Skies Over East Berlin is one of the only series I can think of that sits in the space of sci-fi/historical fiction/political thriller/noir, and I’m still amazed that I only happened upon it on the rack of my local comic shop. Strange Skies fills that hyper-particular niche that isn’t seen all that often but feels necessary when many other series stick to only one or two genres. To experiment with genre is always what comics need to do as a medium. A series like Strange Skies lives and dies on the word-of-mouth around it—even if it comes from a larger publisher like Boom!—and I don’t want to see something so fantastically crafted by Loveness and Estherren to disappear before anyone gets the chance to read it.
Get excited. Try something new.
Drew Barth (Episode 331) is a writer residing in Winter Park, FL. He received his MFA from the University of Central Florida. Right now, he’s worrying about his cat.