Comic Books


Witness the chilling creation of Marvel’s greatest monster, and liberty’s greatest enemy. As Berlin descends into chaos and ruin, sinister forces are on the rise…and the men who will form the Nazi Party ascend to power. Against this tragic backdrop of history, a boy comes of age…Johann Schmidt. orphan, thug, urchin – Johann has nothing…and how far he would go for power will change the world…

Greg Pak, the writer of X-MEN: MAGNETO — TESTAMENT, and breakout Mirko Colak (SECRET WARRIORS) bring to life the twisted birth of the Red Skull.

Story by Greg Pak
Art by Mirko Colak
Colors by Matthew Wilson
Cover by David Aja

Price: $2.99
iFanboy Community Pick of the Week Percentage: 0.3%


keith719807/09/11NoRead Review
Jdudley07/07/11YesRead Review
Peteparker07/07/11NoRead Review
ScorpionMasada07/06/11NoRead Review
Avg Rating: 4.1
Users who pulled this comic:


  1. Definitely interested but I may trade wait.

  2. That cover alone makes this worth checking out.

  3. Is it weird that I’m excited about this book?

  4. Magneto Testament was amazing.

    If this tones down the superheroics and goes with a nuanced origin story, it should be as essential.

  5. Red Skull: Year One. Yes, please. Plus, I could never complain about too much Nazis in my comics.

  6. Very excited for this and the covers are GORGEOUS but I may trade wait as well.

  7. I’m with you ScorpionMedusa.  I can only hope this follows Magneto Testament in thematics.

  8. I was on the fence about this, so I flipped through it. Good art, interesting story, and then BLAM – there was some cruel violence that turned my stomach. I know it’s important to the story, I know it’s not real, but it upset me so greatly that I passed on the book. I’m very interested in pre-WWII Germany and was really looking forward to this book, but I just couldn’t do it.

    Maybe that’s “good” writing, in that it elicited such a violent reaction, but this is not for me. Some might interpret it as a “cheap shot” to get an emotional response – they definitely went for the gut on this. Let’s just say if you are compelled to quickly turn the TV channel when the commercial with the Sarah McLaughlin song comes on, this book will upset you.

    Maybe I will check out issue 2 to see if it’s more palatable.

  9. Something funny about your comment, kennyg, coupled with your icon. 🙂

    But seriously, you’ve got me curious about this scene is and whether the story justifies it.  On the other hand, I think you are a little unfair to the creators to sort of warn people off the book without at least giving them the fair shake of reading the pages that went up to it.

    Have you read Battlefields by Garth Ennis?  There was a particularly harsh opening to Dear Billy, but I think the story there completely justified it.  But obviously, there is a world of difference between that realistic story and anything with a lead character named the Red Skull set in the Marvel Universe.

  10. Man, reading this after gorging on The Walking Dead this weekend gives me a slightly different perspective.

    This was as disturbing as a mainstream Marvel title is likely to get, no doubt, but I wouldn’t say there was anything gratuitous or ‘cheap’. The Red Skull is a seriously messed up dude and that means he’s going to be party to some VERY messed up happenings. But if it continues to be written and drawn as well as this was, I’m on board.

  11. @Urthona  My icon is the “I Like Turtles” kid. It’s from a viral video of some kid who got his face painted at a Halloween thing, and when asked about it by the local TV news, only said “I like turtles.” So, nothing really sinister, just silly, like me, usually.

    The pages that lead up to this were great. As I said, I am a sucker for WWII Germany stuff. I’ve read a lot of books on the rise of the Third Reich, the cultural aspects, how they won over the people, etc. From a sociological standpoint, I find it fascinating. And this book was definitely stroking those warm fuzzies the first 2/3. The art is beautiful; the story just took a turn that broke my heart and was too much for me.

    I am a huge Garth Ennis fan (perhaps ironically). Dear Billy, like many of his excellent war stories, is not sunshine and flowers. There are some truly horrific things in his books. Sometimes they are done for shock value or gallows humor. In Dear Billy, it was critical to the story and, I’m sure, had a historical basis. And at this point in the Johann Schmidt story, it is very rooted in reality. There aren’t any super-heroes or other fantasic elements – this is an accurate look into a real time and a real place, despite how Johann winds up in the long run. And the events that upset me so could happen now. Today. They probably do. Heck, a prominent athlete went to jail for something similar not long ago.

    It’s also a lot easier for me to stomach human-on-human violence for some reason. No, I’m not some militant PETA vegan (and no offense to anyone who is, more power to you), I just have a soft heart about some things – and this ripped it out.

    I am not condemning the book or saying don’t buy it. I’m not trying to warn people away – as others said, you can CLEARLY see how these things messed up Red Skull as a kid. I’m not saying it’s a cheap shot necessarily, but Pak had to know that having the plot go that way would get a visceral reaction from some readers as it demonstrated the cruelty and tragedy.

    Maybe this is a 5/5 book because it can elicit this reaction – it certainly kicked my ass. It took me by surprise – it went from cruel to worse. Maybe that is a sign of excellence. I may give #1 another shot. I may have to stop reading at a certain point, but I definitely will check out #2.

  12. I recommend people who want a different type of book from your traditional super hero fare check this out. 5/5 and Pick of the Week.

  13. Loved it potw next to Flash Point Batman

  14. Absolutely loved it…There needs to be some reason for a character to do or be what he is…Pak told a great story that leads us to understand why the Skull is such a merciless bastard…Yes, it is uber-violent (warn the kids), but it’s an outstanding story…and the covers are fantastic as well.  Highest possible recommendation!

  15. This was fantastic. Im glad to see that Pak has continued with the same approach he used for Magneto Testament, a real world/well researched story which tells us more about history rather than the fictional character. Im really interested in seeing where this goes and i hope he uses this as a platform to illustrate how the Nazi party managed to convince an entire country to follow their twisted ideals. If you love historical fiction, this is for you

  16. My wife and I are both animal lovers, and I’m going to warn my wife before she reads this book.  **minor spoiler for Flashpoint**  She teared up while reading Flashpoint this week when it showed Krypto’s decomposing bones, though that’s one of her favorite characters.  While Magneto Testament was a story I’d recommend to nearly anybody, I know many people who are so turned off by any violence toward animals (real, fictional, etc.) that they would not enjoy reading this or be able to look past it for the interesting story that I have little doubt Mr. Pak is unfolding.

  17. Art was really good, story was interesting considering it was all dialogue driven set-up and i don’t know how i feel about the Michael Vick’ing of Red Skull but yeah it was decent. Definitely not what i was expecting. 

  18. Was the animal cruelty disturbing and hard to read? definitely, but I expected something disturbing and, yes, evil when i picked it up. In his afterward, Greg Pak describes the Red Skull as Marvel’s most evil character and i think that was a pretty damn effective way of showing that. Had the same acts been carried out on a human it probably wouldn’t have had the same impact, people are FAR more sensitive to scenes of animal cruelty portrayed in the media than violence against humans. from the looks of these comments, i think Pak was successful in stirring the up the emotional reaction in his readers that he was looking for

    poor puppy 🙁


    oh wait is it because he’s a weird…..nazi/commie amalgamation?

    then yes

    you are  sick sick sick people loving anti-semite 😛

    nice profile pic by the way 

  20. @kennyg

    Yea, I’ve seen the turtle video, hilarious. 

    When I finished reading the book, I has mixed thoughts.  The whole puppy thing seemed a little too easy.  But the thing that I think you’d find interesting was the text that Pak put in the back where he actually sounds like you, talking about his interest in Germany from that time period and trying to understand how the rise of fascism and concepts like the Final Solution could actually occur.  It read amazingly similar to what you wrote.

    But, that being said, I didn’t find that the issue rose to the level of passion and intellectual inquiry that Pak wrote in the back.

    Always enjoy reading your comments, here and in other threads…

  21. @Urthona  I am going to give the book another shot. I may have to skip a couple of pages toward the end, but now I am especially interested in Pak’s comments in the back. It certainly seemed well researched and grounded in reality.

    About it being “too easy” – yeah, that kind of thing is pretty much guaranteed to get an emotional reaction from a lot of people, and a STRONG reaction from some (like me, as I sit here with my two dogs practically in my lap lol!). That’s why I questioned it as possibly being a “cheap shot” – it certainly is calculated, because it didn’t happen by accident. I kept hoping Pak wasn’t gonna “go there” – I thought SURELY he couldn’t, but he did!

    Watch this wind up being my POTW, despite that! I definitely will check out the rest of the series.

  22. the dog thing wasn’t “too easy” for me, but its not enough to make Red Skull super evil for my money. And this is coming from someone who rescues animals and takes animal abuse very personally. Michael Vick was more brutal to his animals than kiddie Schmidt. 

    Its only the first issue…..i’m expecting the “oh thats frucked up” meter to rise exponentially.  

  23. It’s weird that the animal violence has been so hot button, but I’ve yet to really see anyone even mention the massve amounts of abuse that Schmidt and the other kids take in this book…


  24. @Markish I agree that is pretty strange.



    I haven’t read one person who got upset about The Flash Point Batman when the girl gets shot right in front of her little brother. To me thats way more shocking and disturbing but to each there own.

  25. I thought it was pretty obvious as to why Pak shows the violence to dogs. It shows how the boy gets used to violence and eventual murder. He’s compassionate to the puppy (the underdog, bad pun I know) but the man is trying to desensitize him and get him used to the violence. Makes me think of the stereotype of how serial killers start on their path to evil. It certainly turns your stomach as it should, but I don’t think Pak wanted to make this an easy read. I was way more disturbed by the last Batman Inc. issue where they show the dead drug addict mother on the couch with the crying baby on the floor sitting in it’s own excrement with flies in the room while the tv plays. That scene really messed me up.

  26. WOW! My shop was sold out of Vengence #1 so I picked up this instead. This book was incredibly well done.

  27. Good read. Probably would be a better read as a trade, but I’m loving the cover art so I’ll stick with the floppies.

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