Review - Radical Premiere: Mata Hari

I don’t even know where to begin about this preview edition for the Graphic Novel of the same name Radical Comics is putting out in spring of 2011. Instead of reading other books I had available I finished the Radical Premiere: Mata Hari preview and was drawn in completely and felt compelled to write. I don’t know if you’ve noticed lately but I’ve been slacking and not writing as much in the last few weeks, so that is no small feat.

What elements do we have here? We have a mysterious exotic dancer with ties to high ranking military members (some confirmed, some created or at least not confirmed). We have a character that sits, as Rich Wilkes the creator and writer would have us believe, at the center of allied success in World War I. We have a historical setting that always intrigues me. If you read the backstory, a six page “Proposition” by Wilkes at the end, we may have one of the central figures in shaping our modern world.

Oh, you hadn’t heard of Mata Hari? Neither had I. What blows my mind is that while it cannot be confirmed as the files surrounding her real life trial as a spy in France are sealed, it could be ENTIRELY true as presented in this comic.

So what do we see in this preview edition? The story is being told from the perspective of a little girl that found her Uncle Vadim Maslov’s journal. She is a creepy girl that committed a pretty heinous crime of beheading a corpse and carrying it around with her. This is the first of many places where the illustration of Roy Allan Martinez and paints of Drazenka Kimpel were really stunning. The girl is creepy but also seems to have some information worth finding.

In the end this comic sets up a love triangle between Maslov, a renowned photographer during WWI, General Robert Nivelle and Mata Hari. This would eventually lead to Mata Hari being accused of treason and directly being responsible for the death of 50,000 soldiers during the Spring Offensive of 1917 by the French. I can already tell from the writing that the novel will skillfully weave together fact and presumed fiction to weave an intriguing story where Mata Hari may be the scapegoat that saved France from becoming a part of the German Empire in WWI.

Mata being that close to General Nivelle and his personal photographer Maslov would have given her access to important information. Who knows if anyone was led astray? Her exotic dancing made her one of the most famous entertainers in Europe; did it also play a role in shaping the world from the early 20th century to now?

I know I’m dying to know. If the writing can somehow make me believe that six page proposition then this will be a really fun take on history as we know it. If only this novel was coming out sooner. See you in spring 2011 Mata Hari, I know I’m intrigued. Cue interiors.