The Night Witches by By Garth Ennis and Russ Braun

Huge thank you to NetGalley and Naval Institute Press for the digital review copy!

If you like your graphic novels/comics long and full of history, have I got a recommendation for you! The Night Witches is a graphic history of one of the most fascinating groups in World War II, the Russian lady pilots who flew clunkers of bombers at night with no guides against the Nazis. I have read more than one historical fiction book about them, and it was super cool to see the story unfold through some really stellar artwork.

The book is broken up into three parts and follows pilot Lieutenant Anna Kharkova from her early days of flying to a Nazi POW camp, a tribunal and demotion, and a a long stay in a Gulag. Ann goes through more in these pages than many people could endure in several lifetimes. Despite everything the Motherland puts her through, she never waivers in her patriotism and ultimately just wants to fly and serve her country. Unfortunately, most men are not fans of women doing “men’s work.”

This is not a fun, light comic. War is hell, and many of the characters you may become attached to die. Anna goes through horrific situations, and trigger warning for rape and attempted forced rape (one Nazi soldier tries to force another soldier to rape a woman after she has already been repeatedly raped). It’s not a light subject, so I definitely want to warn you.

I took my time with this one, partly because it’s a sizeable book, and partly because I didn’t want to fly through it. An issue or two per night gave me a chance to really appreciate both the story and the art. It’s out now, so definitely keep it on your radar if you’re a history buff.

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