Alexander Nevsky: A Hero of the People
“It’s the story of a 13th century prince of Novgorod who used a frozen lake to kill his foes and save his city, a tale so powerful that just four years ago a national poll of Russians ranked that prince, Alexander Nevsky, as the greatest Russian who ever lived.” – LA Times
Written by Ben McCool. Art by Mario Guevara.
Ben McCool and Mario Guevara adapt Sergei Eisenstein’s classic film Alexander Nevsky (1938) for comics in Nevsky: A Hero of the People. A tale of heroism, patriotism and rousing battles in a medieval Russia beset by invaders from the east and the west that Multiversity called, “a high-energy, action-packed riff off of Eisenstein’s film; a big, mythic interpretation of a historical tale, and an indirect tribute to the filmmaker as well as Nevsky himself.”
In the year 1242, the towns and villages of Eastern Europe suffer frequent attacks from Mongolian invaders. To protect their people, the boyars (local nobility) of Novogorod strike a deal with the pillagers, paying them off to avoid their plunder though they can scarce afford it.
Meanwhile in Pereslavl, wily military leader Prince Alexander Nevsky refuses to make the same accommodation. Though outnumbered, Nevsky leads the Mongolian forces into a trap and his army to a resounding victory. Impressed by his tactics, the Mongolians send an emissary to invite Nevsky to join their horde. Ever loyal to his homeland, Nevsky refuses the offer.
Soon, a new enemy threatens Russia. The Teutonic Order of knights are on a brutal and fanatical conquest under the order of the Catholic Church, murdering and burning followers of the Orthodox Church. When the nearby city of Pskov falls to the knights, the boyars of Novogorod call Nevsky to lead their defense. Though initially dismissive of the town for paying off the Mongolians, Nevsky’s patriotic heart won’t allow him to refuse.
Nevsky shrewdly picks a frozen lake as the battleground, despite the weakening ice. On the eve of the battle a man from Novogorod approaches him, asking about the strategy for the next day’s battle. Suspecting the man to be a collaborator, Nevsky tells him of a plan to drive the enemy towards the forest. Von Bolk, leader of the Teutonic Order, positions men where the forest meets the lake to stand ready for this strategy.
The battle is long and bloody but the outnumbered Nevsky surprises the invaders at every turn. He sends a group to ambush the knights in the forest, driving them onto the lake. More Russians emerge from the forest, surrounding the Teutonic army and forcing them all onto the weakened ice. The ice is suddenly being to crack and plunges the knights into the freezing cold water.
As his remaining men flee, Von Bolk refuses to accept defeat and he and Nevsky engage in a vicious duel. Though they are well-matched, Nevsky ultimately slays Von Bolk and sends him to join his troops at the bottom of the lake.
Braveheart meets The 300 set in a Russian winter. A brilliant commander leads a small force to victory in the face of overwhelming opposition in this propaganda movie turned action comic.