||[Mar. 6th, 2009|10:30 am]
100 COMICS TO READ BEFORE YOU DIE (or grow out of them)
#50 I KILLED ADOLF HITLER - Jason
“Yeah, it’s kind of a long story.”
I Killed Adolf Hitler is set in a Germany where being a hired killer is as ordinary as being a waiter or a librarian and watching someone being gunned down in the street is just as normal. The main character is one such ordinary assassin who is hired by the inventor of the time machine to take it for its first trip and, yes, kill Adolf Hitler.
Traditionally, time travel stories go in one of two directions. Either the changes made by individuals are shown to be ultimately meaningless and the status quo restores itself no matter how much monkeying with the time-stream the protagonists perform, or some seemingly inconsequential event like stepping on a bug has ramifications that completely rewrite history. Either large actions achieve nothing or tiny events change the world. Both of those outcomes are equally trite. I Killed Adolf Hitler is an open letter that reads:
Dear Science Fiction,
Nobody cares about your temporal paradoxes.
The effect of Hitler’s removal from history doesn’t matter to the story at all. Like the everyday presence of hitmen, it doesn’t bother anyone in anything other than trivial ways. Against the odds, it turns out that I Killed Adolf Hitler is something far more interesting than somebody’s thesis about causality, but instead a melancholy and sweet love story.
The story’s version of Berlin is populated by the affect-lacking animal people the surname-lacking Jason uses in most of his comics, like The Left Bank Gang. These deadpan characters rarely seem startled by anything. Someone just got shot on the street by a hired killer? Oh. You’ve invented a working time machine? Oh. You want me to travel back in time and whack Hitler? Oh. The only things that get through these blank exteriors and register on their faces are the shocks that come from their relationships. Even in a world where you might be packed in a time machine and sent back to kill the leader of the Nazi Party, the twists and turns of love retain their power to open our eyes and surprise us.