|The Desert Peach: Out of the East. By Donna Barr. Bremerton, WA: A Fine Line Press, 2000. 64p. (The Desert Peach, no.29). $6.00. ISBN 1-892253-07-0.|
Some time later, Lisa and Potzi, two women from Germany, come to pick up little Udo, who is baffled and confused by everything that has started to happen to him. Sneaking him through Customs by the judicious use of the number tattooed on Lisa's arm, they bring him to Germany and call up one Manfred Rommel-Oiseau, who has been looking for Udo for a long time but had given up any real hope of finding him. Mani immediately contacts his uncle Melvin, partner to Pfirsich Rommel; Udo was Pfirsich's orderly. Melvin isn't exactly thrilled by this development, because Pfirsich has been having a tough time getting over the war, even after all these years; and when Melvin reveals that Udo is on his way, Pfirsich endures the long and painful memory of how Udo ended up in Russia in the first place--via Operation Keelhaul and the vindictiveness of Leutnant Winzig....
Of course, the characters are superb. Pfirsich, the Desert Peach, is one of the great characters in comics (not just one of the great gay characters in comics, as has been said elsewhere) and is wholly three-dimensional, at once light-hearted and tragic, "stupid with courage" yet unable to face Udo when he's finally brought to the house. (He also looks terrific in long hair!) As Sartopov or as Udo, the little orderly is quite mad--he can speak German only when he's talking to Pfirsich--yet still a survivor and overjoyed at his reunion with his colonel. Melvin, formerly known as Rosen Kavalier, has mellowed considerably from his devil-may-care war days; indeed, he is now Pfirsich's protector, the sober one in the family, which is quite a switch! And the two women, Lisa and Potzi, are charmingly mercenary; I hope we see more of them.
As usual, Barr's line art is splendid, with plenty going on. I love the various expressions on the faces of the unfortunates who have to deal with Sartopov's collection of genitalia, which is one of the few things he brings out of Siberia.
My only quibble with the story, which is tightly plotted and wastes nothing, is that when Lisa and Potzi get their hands on Udo, it's a little hard to follow the chronology and figure out where they are on their journey. But that's a very small part of an outstanding book. The entire Desert Peach series is highly recommended (really, it's a key part of any collection of non-superhero comics); this one could stand on its own if necessary. Readers fond of post-WWII material will find it especially interesting.
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