Written by Paul Cornell
Art by Valeria Burzo
Colors by Jordie Bellaire
Letters by Simon Bowland
Edits by Sebastian Girner
Published by TKO Studios
“Inspired by a true story, The Witches of World War II follows a coven of witches as they embark on a mission to help capture Adolf Hitler’s second-in-command, Rudolf Hess. This magic kills fascists! In the darkest hours of World War 2, Doreen Valiente, a junior intelligence officer, twenty years old and already a war widow, is approached by a British General who tells her he knows she’s a witch… and that’s how she can best serve her country.
Valiente, an expert on British folklore and the occult, is to use her connections in this peculiar community to recruit a group of British ‘magicians’ and use their “skills” to gain some advantage over the Nazi high command, who believe fervently “in all this occult rubbish.” Together with Aleister Crowley, the self-proclaimed “Most Evil Man in the World” Valiente recruits a hard-nosed white witch Dion Fortune, the grizzled and gray-bearded founder of Wicca Gerald Gardner, and exorcist and con man in a turban Rollo Ahmed. Together this coven of witches will travel deep into the heart of Nazi-occupied Europe and gamble their lives, their beliefs, and their powers on a mission to help capture Rudolf Hess, fervent occultist, and second in command to Adolf Hitler himself.”
This is truly the most unique take on historical fiction I have ever read. The story follows five famous, real-life British occultists and spins a tale so fantastical about their actions during World War II. I had a blast reading this graphic novel and all of the twists and turns of where this story takes you. Just when you think you know what direction Paul Cornell will take the story, we are met with a new plot line taking this story elsewhere. In the approximately 155 pages of the story, we are given quite the spectacle of events from World War II. Another intriguing concept that this graphic novel focuses on is the belief in the occult. I really enjoyed how this was handled and how the characters respond to events tied to the belief in certain magical items or spells.
Valeria Burzo’s artwork stuns throughout the graphic novel, sparing no expense for details, even with more complicated backgrounds. The character designs are fantastic for the 1940s and immerse the reader into the story and the era. Jordie Bellaire’s colors are more muted, as was more common in the era, but focused on the symbolism behind colors a lot throughout the story, tying in the reds of the Nazis to certain characters, as well as some dream sequences. Sebastian Girner’s lettering is impeccable throughout with well-placed and sometimes cleverly-placed balloons and sound effects.
This story is yet another example of how Paul Cornell is a storyteller that everyone should be reading. The concept alone is not something many would come up with and then the execution of the concept shows his mastery as a writer. This story is an unforgivingly wild rewriter of World War II history with a mythical and occult twist that will keep you turning the pages. If you are a fan of war stories that focus on people outside of the battlefield, punching Nazis, and a touch a witchiness, then you have to grab The Witches of World War II!
The Witches of World War II OGN is on FOC March 27, 2023 and out on April 26, 2023!
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