cover image Nanjing: The Burning City

Nanjing: The Burning City

Ethan Young. Dark Horse, $24.99 (215p) ISBN 978-1-61655-752-2

Acclaimed comics creator Young (Tails: Life in Progress) has released his most ambitious project yet: an intimate look at what’s known as the Rape of Nanjing: six weeks during the Second Sino-Japanese War in 1937–38, in which Japanese troops systematically tortured, sexually assaulted, and executed hundreds of thousands of Chinese soldiers and civilians. Although records of the massacre have largely been destroyed, Young draws on the best information available to tell a fictionalized account of two Chinese soldiers attempting to escape their city. Along the way, they meet several equally desperate refugees, and their destinies become intertwined. Young’s black-and-white artwork is heart-wrenchingly beautiful in its depiction of countless tragedies, and his writing remains tight throughout. Most notable among the fascinating cast is Yan, a battle-hardened wife and mother who retains her agency during the infamous violence against women. Young’s decision not to glorify violence or titillate the reader in any way avoids a common pitfall and heightens the drama. This is stunning, stirring historical fiction by a creator at the height of his craft. (Sept.)