By Sam King
I just want to start by saying I have only played World of Tanks once and I had a good time with it. My significant other and one of my close friends play it all the time, so I have a solid understanding of it. My S.O. is also a major tank aficionado, so I’m not going in blind to this at all. World of Tanks is a massively multiplayer online game that pits player against player with tanks. Each player controls a tank as part of a team and tries to destroy the other team’s tanks on the map or capture the opposing team’s base. It has become a mobile, board, and card game. I may not be the target audience, but I think this is one that anyone could potentially enjoy with an open mind.
There was another comic series published by Dark Horse before this one, but I did not get the chance to check that one out. That one covers different tank models and a different battle. The notable thing about that series is that it had the same writer, so clearly there was enough success from the first series to warrant creating another. This series, World of Tanks: Citadel, focuses on a Soviet unit and a German unit. This first issue sets up the weaponry capabilities of both and highlights the emotions that arise before a major conflict on either side.
In terms of accuracy, from what I have been able to tell from external opinion and basic internet comparisons, the tanks presented are highly accurate. The same criticisms given by the Soviet captain about the British Matilda tank his unit has been given instead of the newer T-34s, are the same as the response I got from asking my S.O., “what were Matilda tanks like? The British ones from World War I”. These complaints include the fact that they have limited potential when it comes to round type and size (no high-explosive rounds, just armor-piercing). Also, the aircraft that shows up later is also very easily recognizable. The included uniform indicators (red star vs. black plus sign insignias) make it very easy to know which group is being presented at any given time, even when aircraft come upon the Soviets and conflict is engaged. I think that readers who are actually really into the game and military history will be satisfied with the representations within the comic.
I have not read a lot of military history, so comics like these present me the opportunity to learn more about history, which is something I enjoy. It makes history a lot more fun and memorable. Readers already familiar with this history will recognize all the set-up clues provided, such as the title. Citadel refers to a particular Operation, which is also known by the German name of Operation Zitadelle. The comic sets the start of the story a day before the Battle of Kursk begins between the Soviet Union and Germany, in World War II. It was named for the location, Kursk, which was in the Soviet Union. Since I had never heard of this battle, I do not know how it is going to turn out, and I refuse to check before finishing this series as I want to see the conflict unfold without knowing. I am sure that major history buffs reading this will already know who wins and even why. I think the strength of this comic will be the visuals and the handling of the characters introduced here.
The Soviet captain seems to be rather experienced and tossed into conflicts with bad odds based on his equipment. The two young men on the German side seem to have much less experience, in addition to being much lower in rank. They have more relatability to them to a certain degree, although both sides are made very human in the way they are presented with their reactions. I think one of the other strengths is that neither side is necessarily presented as “bad.” Both sides just exist, independently of one another until they come into direct conflict. Neither is necessarily more likable than another on their own. While we may already have preconceptions about both groups based on the stances in the war, both sides are presented fairly and equally. This almost makes the conflict more real and less polarizing than war time propaganda and history textbooks might present the same subject. The transitions from unit to unit could be smoother, but that does not ruin the overall enjoyment of the story.
I enjoyed this issue and I hope that the next issue is just as strong. This one makes me want to see what the other comic series Dark Horse published within the same franchise is like. It seems as though you could pick up either one and not have to necessarily have much background information, although it will definitely help create deeper understanding of what is presented. For military history fans I definitely recommend it and I think even casual comic readers could pick this up and find it interesting. While there is a certain niche it is directed toward, I think it can break that barrier well enough at this point. We will see if this holds true by the end of the series.
World of Tanks: Citadel #1
Dark Horse Comics