Comic Review: Nanjing the Burning City Vol. 1 (Dark Horse)

Ethan Young, creator of The Battles of Bridget Lee, and Life Between Panels brings us another graphic novel. This time, it’s Nanjing, The Burning City, from Dark Horse. Nanjing, a […]

Ethan Young, creator of The Battles of Bridget Lee, and Life Between Panels brings us another graphic novel. This time, it’s Nanjing, The Burning City, from Dark Horse.

Nanjing, a Chinese city northeast of Shanghai in mainland China, was the site of Japanese war atrocities in the years leading up to the Second World War. Japan had invaded China and centered on Nanjing. Nanjing, the Burning City highlights this period in China’s history.

It’s war, it’s horrible, but Young brings us this relatively forgotten (by North Americans) saga of the humiliation and survival of the Chinese. Trapped in one area of Nanjing, a Chinese military captain and his troops, abandoned by their higher-ups, are trying to get to safety. There is no food or water, and Japanese patrols are shooting anyone they find. And torturing, gang-raping and murdering any young woman they come across. Just for kicks.

It’s hard stuff to stomach but well told by Young. The story is treated as even-handedly as possible under the circumstances. It’s similar, perhaps, to an issue of a war comic, say Sgt Rock of Easy Company, where we concentrate on the actions of a few, to encapsulate the struggles of the many.

The drawings, all done in line art in black and white, give plenty of atmosphere and attention to detail.

Dark Horse, Nanjing, The Burning City, $14.99 for 220 pages of content. Assume Mature Rating

Alan Spinney

About Alan Spinney

After a career of graphic design, art direction and copywriting, I still have a passion for words and pictures. I love it when a comic book comes together; the story is tight, and the drawings lead me forward. Art with words... the toughest storytelling technique to get right. Was this comic book worth your money? Let's see!!