VICTORY FOR UKRAINE [Graphic Novel Review]

Maintaining Dignity and Sovereignty to the Bitter End

  • Writers : Denys Fadieiev, Ruslan Samaryk & Bohdana Vitkovska
  • Artists : Oleksandr Koreshkov, Kateryna Kosheleva, Yevhenii Tonchylov, Volodymyr Povoroznyk, Ihor Kurilin, Maksym Bohdanovskyi, Bohdana Vitkovska, Nazar Ponik, Kyrylo Malov
  • Genre : Biography, Historical, War
  • Publisher : Tokyopop
  • Publication Date : August 2022

On the night of February 23, 2022, a nation of 41 million people settled in for an uneasy sleep with enemies on their country’s borders. When they awoke, their nation was engulfed in the flames of war.

This is not the plot to a novel or a movie; this is the living reality of the Ukrainian people, invaded in a unilateral act of violence by the Russian Federation. The war has now lasted over half a year, having displaced a third of the country and forcing nearly 7 million Ukrainians to flee into Western Europe.

Yet the noble people of Ukraine have never once shied away from defending their birthplace. From civilians taking up arms against the invaders, to the Ukrainian army fighting against great odds, the people have shown unrivaled courage and resilience.

In Tokyopop’s graphic novel anthology, PEREMOHA: Victory for Ukraine, nine Ukrainian artists come together to share interwoven tales of Ukraine’s ongoing war, and to encourage both their countrymen—and the watching world—that they will maintain their dignity and sovereignty to the bitter end.

For the vast majority of our readers, including ourselves, the concept of ‘war’ is something read about in school books, or sensationalized in fiction. Even those with serving family members have likely never seen conflict on their own soil.

For the better part of the last year, the world has watched horrific events unfold on TV and in the news—but hearing about it and knowing about it are two very different things. PEREMOHA: Victory for Ukraine brings this reality to life in superbly illustrated stories, each focusing on a different part of the war.

There’s a story on the semi-legendary “Ghost of Kyiv”—a purported fighter pilot who downed numerous Russian jets single-handedly; and another on the resilience of civilian fighters who risk their lives to defend their homes against armored tanks. Stories that the globe read about in the papers—such as the fierce defense of Zmiinyi (Snake) Island—come to life in gritty detail in these pages.

Yet PEREMOHA: Victory for Ukraine is not a somber story, not by any stretch of the imagination. Unspeakable horrors have been inflicted on the Ukrainian people by the invasion, but it’s the pride and courage of citizens and soldiers that takes center focus in this graphic novel.

PEREMOHA: Victory for Ukraine speaks not just about the current war, but the long and bitter history between these two countries. The nation of Ukraine existed long before what we’d call Moscow today, and Ukraine has repelled numerous attempted invasions from Russia before, dating back to well before the 17th century.

The writers and artists have captured not just the spirit of the defenders, but the attackers too. Though there are many Russian invaders spurred on by Vladimir Putin’s aggressive views, so too are there many soldiers who were promised riches and victory, and sold nothing but an early death. That isn’t to say PEREMOHA: Victory for Ukraine is sympathetic to the Russian soldiers—nobody would expect that from the country being unjustly besieged—but several stories expound upon the reports that many Russian soldiers were essentially “sold up the river.”

Why you should read PEREMOHA: Victory for Ukraine

Regular readers will know that Honey’s Anime usually offers “pros” and “cons” for reading manga or novels. But there is no room to debate the merits of PEREMOHA: Victory for Ukraine, since it is ultimately the artistic embodiment of a nation’s desire to maintain its sovereignty and protect its people.

If you, like us, have followed the war with sympathy for the plight of the Ukrainian people—or, if you’ve only had surface interactions with the news and not truly understood what the war has looked like—then you should read this graphic novel.

Even better, a portion of proceeds from PEREMOHA: Victory for Ukraine’s sales goes towards Razom for Ukraine, a non-profit Ukrainian-American human rights organization giving direct support to the people of Ukraine.

All of us who desire a democratic world free from senseless war and violence should read this graphic novel, and understand the Ukrainian fight for freedom.

Art is a universal medium, capable of expressing human emotion that transcends cultural or linguistic barriers. Whether you’ve no connection to the Ukrainian invasion at all, or whether you have family or lineage from Ukraine, PEREMOHA: Victory for Ukraine is a defiant insight into the war and its people.

The creators of PEREMOHA: Victory for Ukraine have communicated a very simple message: Victory will undoubtedly come for the Ukrainian people, through the bravery of its people, and the cooperation of the democratic societies of the world.

Slava Ukraini.

Author: Brett Michael Orr

I’m a writer, gamer, and reviewer of manga & light novels, from Melbourne, Australia. When I’m not creating a new world, I’ll be absorbed in a good JRPG, watching some anime, or reading up a storm!

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