Berlin: The Seven Dwarves

A World War II Lancaster bomber flies low across the English countryside as a girl watches from the road. One of the bomber’s twin tails is shot apart. One wing tip and flap are gone. Oil trails from its outer port engine. What is going on? And just like that you are sucked into the graphic novel Berlin: The Seven Dwarves.

The book follows the lives of the crew of the Arvo Lancaster bomber Snow White as they partake in dangerous night bombing raids against Nazi Germany. Author/illustrator Marvano aka Mark Van Oppen spins a nice yarn full of tense action, friendship and love in a historical setting. His graphics, especially of the flying equipment/action and the setting, are excellent.

Though Marvano’s (the author’s pen name) depictions of the night bombing action are excellent, some of his choices are interesting, especially his choice to show the dual engined push pull German Dornier Do 335 night fighter in one engagement. Admittedly it is a very cool plane, being menacing and high-tech looking, but it did not make its first maiden flight until after the action described in the book had occurred and per some records it may not have ever seen combat, period.

Beyond that though, this is an excellent read. Until now my reading of the British part of the strategic bombing campaign and their dangerous night missions had been limited to general histories and to the gripping young adult novel B is for Buster, about a young Canadian boy who works on a ground crew for a Handley Page Halifax bomber squadron, so this book, for sure from a mental imagery stand point, fills in some gaps.

If curious about the American part of the strategic bombing campaign, you can find quite a bit of specific literature out there about the 8th Air Force and its daylight bombing efforts against Germany flying the venerable Boeing B-17 and Consolidated B-24 (many of which were built right here in Ypsilanti). The library has both the informative and well written A Wing and A Prayer as well as the excellent teen novel, The Last Mission.