Classic Cold War With a Twist
BOOM! Studios’s newest series, Strange Skies Over East Berlin, is a story that mixes Cold War era spy thriller with science fiction elements that may or may not include aliens.
The first issue, written by Jeff Loveness, starts out with an American spy named Herring helping several people escape out of East Berlin in 1973. Just as they are about to climb over the wall, they’re spotted by Soviet guards and they try to get away. One of the escapees gets shot and others get captured by the guards.
As Herring tries to hide from the guards, a shining light passes over the wall and crashes somewhere in East Berlin. Using this distraction as the perfect opportunity, Herring runs into the shadows though a light briefly shines on him and he may or may not have been noticed by a high ranking officer named Keiner.
The New Assignment
Some time later, Herring meets up with his handler who questions him over whether Keiner saw him or not. The spy isn’t too sure but is given the task of investigating what it was that crashed as it could help the Soviets win the Cold War. Posing as a Soviet colonel, Herring is brought into a secret Russian base to interview one of the soldiers that took part in the recovery of the object.
The soldier just stares at the wall with wide eyes, though the doctors don’t find anything physically wrong and think it’s psychological. Once Herring talks with the soldier, he gives cryptic answers, a blue liquid comes out of his eyes and nose, his skin turns a dark blue, and electricity just pours out of him as he charges at the disguised spy before being subdued by other soldiers. As the soldier is subdued, Herring is the only one that notices the image of a woman behind them that quickly disappears.
Anzhela, the woman in charge of the base, issues a quarantine until whatever is happening is both contained and to understand it better. She is also suspicious that there may be spies already inside, which is why she had Keiner brought in. Herring and Keiner meet, though it’s unclear if the Soviet officer knows whether or not Herring is the spy from before.
A New Spy
Giving us a much more grim view of spies and agencies than what other spy stories in the past have given us, less James Bond and more Jason Bourne, the comic starts out very typical until one third of the way that adds a mystery that leads into something more of its own. Even with this shift into a more science fiction oriented story, the issue still keeps its tone and atmosphere intact.
Loveness’s writing, especially Herring’s narration throughout Strange Skies’s first issue, is perfect and gives both a very poetic style. Every time you think there’s a moment to breathe, you get a quick surprise that keeps you invested.
Noir in East Berlin
What makes the artwork by Lisandro Estherren so unique is it has a very classic film noir style to it. The characters and backgrounds are well detailed and have well placed shadows where needed. One special mention is when Herring is interrogating the Soviet soldier, each succeeding panel gets darker and darker. This is such a clever way of foreshadowing what was about to happen.
Strange Skies Over East Berlin has a strong and powerful beginning with writing and artwork that keeps you from putting it down.
You can pick up a copy of Strange Skies Over East Berlin #1 at Boom! Studios, Comixology, and your local comic book store.
How did we rate the first issue of Strange Skies? Rating: 6 Sodas.
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