SARA is one of the TKO Studios’s launch titles released late in 2018. TKO Studios is taking a NETFLIX approach by releasing the titles in binge-worthy packaging of the whole miniseries. The publisher releases its titles as trade paperbacks or box sets containing the whole series in individual comic form. Being a traditionalist (love holding individual issues in my hands), I chose the box set.
The SARA box set contained 6 issues. These comics are slightly taller than a traditional comic book, but the height did not affect my reading. In fact, it may have enhanced the story by giving it a certain depth, since the setting for SARA deals with Russian/Soviet female snipers fighting Nazis on the Eastern Front during WWII.
Garth Ennis is a modern staple when it comes to writing war comics, and this is not the first time he has visited Russia/Soviet Union to tell a story of the women’s contribution to the war effort. In Night Witches (2008) Ennis told a fictional story based on the 588th Night Bomber Regiment. In SARA, he tells a fictionalized story based on Russian/Soviet female snipers who fought mostly on the Eastern Front.
Ennis’s main character Sara seems to be a composite of two real-life snipers from WWII. The first is Lyndmila Pavichenko, who was one of the world’s deadliest snipers with 309 confirmed kills. In real life Pavichenko was a university student in Kiev when the war started. In Ennis’s story, Sara is a university student who was caught behind enemy lines unable to get home when the war broke out. The other real-life inspiration for Sara was Roza Shanina who volunteered for service after her brother was killed in action. Sara’s character operates under similar motivation.
Garth Ennis provides great drama throughout the series. Battle scenes provide an adrenaline rush throughout the narrative. The art and coloring provided by Steve Epting is superbly detailed, and with Elizabeth Breitweiser’s coloring, provides a sense of cold, which is appropriate given the setting.
If the goal was to create binge-worthy comics, then TKO Studios accomplished that goal with the team who created SARA. I was sucked into the drama from the first page of issue one and read all six issues in one sitting. Hopefully after reading this series people will be compelled to read about the real-life exploits of the women that Ennis used as the inspiration for his story. I look forward to this creative team’s next work.