I’m not sure what drew my eye to The Death of Stalin when it appeared in Titan Comics’ review list. For whatever reason, it did, and I could not be more thrilled about it. I thought, based upon the brief summary on the cover page, that this would be a story of what it was like in the USSR after Stalin’s death. While that would have been fascinating in of itself, it’s impossible that the fiction of someone’s perspective of the chaos that followed could be half as interesting as the actual death of Stalin.
IFC Films certainly agrees with me, as they have adapted this graphic novel for a film of the same name to be released in October of this year. After reading this story, you better believe I will be there. If I had one complaint about this graphic novel, it’s that it’s just now releasing in the states. We should have had this treasure when it released in 2012 in France.
It’s hard to imagine that a tyrannical dictator’s death could be worthy of a comic book or movie unless it was an assassination. Stalin was not assassinated; he died of a stroke. One would think there’s no way that could be a story, and the stroke in of itself is not what keeps the story riveting; it’s how Stalin received treatment for the stroke.
The amount of fear Stalin had over the entire country was astounding. When Stalin was first found in his home, everyone thought he was drunk and ignored him. It took well over a day before anyone realized something happened to him. No one would call a doctor without the entire Council’s approval. Even then, the Council had no idea who to call because Stalin sentenced all of the country’s top doctors to death. The doctors who finally came in were nearly too scared to diagnose or treat Stalin. Since they hadn’t been called for a few days, they knew Stalin wouldn’t recover from the cerebral hemorrhage.
No one would decide a thing without a committee meeting. No committee meeting was held without a ton of vodka. Stalin might have lived if he was treated immediately. Kind of ironic that it was Stalin’s own communist rules of no one going outside their job parameters that killed him in the end.
Equally as fascinating was all of the plotting and scheming of the Council for who would take over after Stalin’s death. I had forgotten that Khrushchev was one diabolical, slimy weasel. The communist regime was one volatile, scary, scary place. Then again, it’s not like things are too much better in Mother Russia was Putin in charge either.
After finishing the book, I immediately researched into Stalin’s death and the Council post-mortem. The book posted the following disclaimer at the beginning, but how much of this tale was creative license? I know things were bad in the USSR under Stalin, but was everyone really that ridiculous?
Outside of actual conversations between characters and the incident with the concert in the very beginning, everything was 100% fact. I couldn’t believe it. The disclaimer is absolutely right: “it would have been impossible for them [writers] to come up with anything half as insane as the real events surrounding the death of Stalin.”
I started this book late at night, thinking I would read a few pages and fall asleep. I could not put it down. I had to know what insane thing the Council would decide (or not decide) next. It was yet another night of little sleep, but the book was so great, I didn’t care.
It doesn’t matter if you’re into historical events, Russia, or Russian history, everyone needs to pick this novel up. If nothing else, everyone needs to see that Stalin, one of the worst dictators in human history, prided himself as the liberator of fascism. Even worse, everyone in Russia believed that he was.
Our Rating: YUS!
Author: Fabien Nury
Artists: Thierry Robin and Lorien Aureyre
Publisher: Titan Comics
Publish Date: 07/05/2017
Acquired via Publisher