Considering the sheer number of major ‘chess pieces’ which seemingly fall within this twenty-two page periodical the vast majority of its readers must have wondered by its end in just which direction creator Kieron Gillen was going to take his “alternate World War II” title next. In fact, with the sole exception of H.M.H. Churchill, who literally tears Battleship Zero to pulpy pieces courtesy of her superior “brute force” and “tactical intelligence”, none of this ongoing series’ lead protagonists survive their individual battlefields intact.
Such a savage assault upon his audience’s senses would arguably have seen this comic’s British author ordinarily limit his narrative to a single super-powered confrontation per publication, especially when the plot progresses to the highly-anticipated point where Sieglinde “and the supporting lower classes of enhanced humans” just west of Moscow encounter Katyusha for a third (and quite possibly final) time. However, rather than produce a lengthy ‘heavyweight bout’, the Stafford-born writer’s altercation is instead surprisingly swift, and whilst this ‘shortness’ ensures that the women’s fight pales into insignificance when compared to the grotesque goriness of Leah Cohen’s ferocious mutilation of Klaudia’s blood-red malformed pet, it arguably provides plenty more shock value, most notably when the “Ubermensch aligned with the U.S.S.R.” spares her fallen, facially-disfigured opponent and sincerely tells her to “get on your silly bike, silly woman” and “not come back.”
So sudden a conclusion debatably suggests that the former computer games journalist was probably planning plenty of exposition for the rest of this book, so his subsequent coverage of the Battle of Irkutsk, where a Soviet artillery battery has “allowed the Andreevna-tipped force to assemble on the east bank of the river, opposite the Japanese ranks” comes completely out of the blue, as does the fact that “The Manic Sniper” bests the super-powered Yamato within the blink of an eye; “No suicide soldiers here today, Hideki. There is nothing for you in Russia. You were stupid to come. We must be smarter. There is little time for us to not be smart.”
However, considering that despite their vastly opposing values Katyusha continues to allow her fellow battleships to live and thus potentially still threaten Joseph Stalin’s growing tyrannical empire in the future, it is Gillen’s sense-shattering conclusion to this comic which probably made its fans bolt upright the most. Torn asunder from behind by the halo-effects of those who were supposedly employed to protect her, Maria’s agonising death at the hands of the treacherous Olesya is both utterly captivating and genuinely upsetting, not least because it is so dynamically-drawn by regular artist Daniel Gete.