Viewed by creator Kieron Gillen as the end of his “Mother Russia” arc, or rather “What To Do About A Problem Like Maria?”, this decidedly different “take on The Sound Of Music” almost exclusively focuses upon Katyusha’s miraculous resurrection following her previously depicted death during “a chance attack from a flank”, and the sweet mad thing’s subsequent unsurprisingly merciless revenge upon the traitorous Soviets responsible for her cold-blooded murder; “The enhanced forces that had accompanied Andreevna’s apparent corpse on its return from the East were deployed, but were neutralised swiftly. It could not be truly characterised as a fight. It was more like punishment.”
But whilst such a one-sided conflict may well seem a rather superfluously long sequence to some readers, the utter terror etched upon Joseph Stalin’s blanched features, as well as the narrative’s frequent biblically-based analogies, impressively still manages to imbue this twenty-two page periodical’s plot with an enthralling aura of nervous tension and suspense. Indeed, the Georgian dictator’s ultimately horrific, painful demise is as unforeseen a fate as his transformation into a statue of the highly valuable ruby “red muck” is fantastical, and few within this title’s audience wouldn’t have felt their heart quicken when the soon-to-be “pillar-of-catalyst” first peers from out of his Kremlin office’s window and open-eyed spies Maria merrily waving back at him from the cobbled Moscow street below.
Pleasingly however, just because the former music journalist’s narrative predominantly follows the exploits of “The Manic Sniper” doesn’t mean it simply ignores the likes of Olesya, Molotov, Siegmund and Leah Cohen either, with H.M.H. Churchill in particular being penned an especially poignant moment when Maria fixes the huge monster’s partially severed right leg and enables the super-strong woman to walk once again. This extraordinary ‘twinkling of optimism’ amidst a publication packed full of alarming atrocity is then arguably made all the brighter when artist Daniel Gete’s ‘camera’ promptly pans away from the fading figure of the stumbling British behemoth and highlights that Maria’s act of kindness actually occurs beneath the disconcertingly well-pencilled remains of the three crucified “Judas” Russians the “Battleship class Ubermensch” gruesomely dispatched without a moment’s thought just minutes earlier.