Writer: John Luzar
Illustrator: Kasey Quevedo
Publisher: Resistance Comics
WHAT IS IT?
Marguerite vs. the Occupation is a single-issue tale, really one action-packed scene, set in the occupied French countryside near the end of World War II and centered around a woman’s very personal struggle against fascists.
This small story combines the struggle with trying to hold on to what’s important in a shattering time, like Catherine’s War, with the high action of books like Major Holmes & Captain Watson.
WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
A young woman, after suffering four years of war and occupation by the forces of Nazi Germany, rushes to her home village in the hopes of witnessing its liberation by Allied forces. Instead she finds a ruin, and a machine gun nest occupied by German soldiers where her room used to be.
Her house is all but destroyed, the enemy has taken what remains for their own use, and from that vantage it could take far too much time—and cost more lives—to clear them out. With only an injured French Resistance soldier for an ally, and memories of the home she knew to guide her, Marguerite refuses to stand idly by for one more moment.
Can one young woman, angry and desperate, defeat a group of armed Nazi soldiers and reclaim what’s left of her home?
Luzar’s writing has an incredible efficiency, loading what could have otherwise been a very shallow little tale with layers of theme and emotion.
The pencils and inks by Kasey Quevedo strike just the right balance for what Luzar has called an "action fable." Small details give weight to the world, while simple and bold lines help the reader believe each movement.
The majority of the story takes place at night, in the rain, and Laurel Dundee’s work as colorist makes the most of those contrasts. Every scene is clear and dramatic.
Text boxes representing Marguerite's thoughts are a central part of the storytelling, and Toben Racicot’s lettering pairs perfectly with her voice, while the placement and design of the boxes help frame many of the key moments.
Marguerite is a keystone to the whole story; if we didn’t believe in her reaction, her dedication to the task at hand, it would all fall apart. By focusing so much on her reactions and memories, the book makes her real enough to believe in.
Those memories are cleverly worked into the present, mostly by using warm, glowing colors to contrast the past with the darkness of the current struggle.
On that note, there were at least 4 notable women with the name Marguerite associated with the French Resistance during that period, making it a smart historical nod and assurance that the creative team did their homework.
I really enjoyed that, despite the lack of grim grittiness to the story or art, this is not a tale without loss or costs. It’s about fighting evil in the face of loss, and every bruise or gunshot is remembered as the events unfold.
WHAT DOESN’T WORK?
Content Warning: The story takes place during World War II, meaning that there are bloodshed, destruction, and Nazis.
At one point, the fight for this valley is given larger context in the war, but keeping the focus entirely on this valley and using that space to tell us more about Marguerite or her home may have been a better use of that space.
It’s not a story about a gritty and hyper-realistic war hero, but even in the realm of desperate action movie antics, the climactic moment may strike some as breaking the suspension of disbelief.
The actual writing in the text boxes is great, but as a reflection of Marguerite’s thoughts, they swing between reading as letters to her mother, talking to herself, shouts of defiance towards her enemies (and back) in a way that could be confusing.
WHY SHOULD I READ IT?
This book was conceived in a time of frustration with the chaos of political conflict, racial animosity, and a government in the grasping hands of those who would do anything to keep a hold on power. Luzar has said as much, and the choice of a story in which literal soldiers of Nazi Germany are the enemy was not an accident.
For those interested, there are two central ways to read this book, both entirely valid.
First, as a small, powerful tale of one person in the midst of an enormous war who decides she’d give anything to take her home back. It’s quick, sharp, and the characters feel real despite the broad strokes and short time we get to know them.
Second, as a story about how the things you love being stolen, tainted, or damaged by bullies and fascists shouldn’t stop you from fighting for them. A friend of mine has a saying, “Nazis get nothing,” and it means that no one should ever cede a space, a subject, an art style, a music genre, or even a stupid haircut to them.
That can seem hard to do in the real world, even impossible at times, but Marguerite fights back anyway. And it’s fun to watch her do it.
WHAT DO I READ NEXT?
If you like the writing:
The Worth & The Cost by John Luzar & Beth Varni
MINE by John Luzar & Beth Varni
Catherine’s War by Julia Billet & Claire Fauvel
If you like the art:
Velocidad by Kasey Quevedo
Major Holmes & Captain Watson by Jeff Rider & Ismael Canales
Superman Smashes the Klan by Gene Luen Yang & Gurihiru
ABOUT THE CREATORS
John Luzar – Writer
Multitalented: John has worked as an actor, playwright, director, and political blogger.
The name of his blog, Shower Cap’s Blog, comes from the outfit he threw together in order to crash a rally for President Trump in Chicago.
New Face: John began his comics career with a successful Kickstarter in early 2020, and has finished another since then.
Kasey Quevedo – Illustrator
He’s worked in the videogame industry for over 20 years, working on games like Crimson Skies, Quantum Conundrum, and more.
One of his earliest comic book works was Aztec of the City, in 1995.
Kasey is a graduate of the Joe Kubert School of Comics and Graphic Arts.
Laurel Dundee – Colorist
Outlander: Laurel hails from the lands primarily known as Victoria, Canada.
She is a fan of barn owls, and uses them as inspiration for pieces that are by turns wonderful and creepy
Laurel is a recent graduate of the Emily Carr University of Art + Design.
Toben Racicot – Letterer
Multitalented: He’s a writer, letterer, boardgame designer, PhD candidate, and co-host/producer of a podcast.
He works with his wife on the comic Crown & Anchor, which he writes/letters and his wife, Alaire, illustrates.
Toben’s run a successful Kickstarter campaign for his comic, Emulator, and Pilgrim’s Dirge is another on Kickstarter until August 12, 2021.
HOW DO I BUY IT?
Kickstarter - Back it on Kickstarter before 8:57AM EDT on August 19, 2021.
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