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Berlin, Vol. 2: City of Smoke (Berlin #2)

4.06  ·  Rating Details ·  1,606 Ratings  ·  97 Reviews
The second installment of the epic historical trilogy
The second volume of Jason Lutes’s historical epic finds the people of Weimar Berlin searching for answers after the lethal May Day demonstration of 1929. Tension builds along with the dividing wall between communists and nationalists, Jews and Gentiles, as the dawn of the Second World War draws closer. Meanwhile,
Paperback, 210 pages
Published September 16th 2008 by Drawn and Quarterly (first published 2002)
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Seth T.
Sep 18, 2008 Seth T. rated it it was amazing
Shelves: comics
As far as middle chapters go, City of Smoke runs pretty much better than expected. Second acts generally fend off some of the energy and presence of the first in order to properly explode into the final act. While maintaining his virtuosity over the form, Lutes does calm things down a bit after the May Day massacre that concluded the first act.

City of Smoke largely explores two themes: the robust nightlife that ruled Berlin's hidden quarters and the growing political strife between factions of t
Alex Sarll
I worried that I'd been reading too much British mysticism and imperial decline lately, felt I needed something about somewhere else to stop me going entirely squirrelly ahead of next week's moment of national madness. So instead I started reading something set in Berlin in the latter half of 1929, whose blurb quite fairly promises that it "creates a sense of anxiety and imminent doom".

Sometimes I can be a complete idiot.

Divisions harden, the well-meaning turn on each other while the thugs rejoi
Razvan Zamfirescu
A doua parte din trilogia Berlinului este puțin mai profundă decât precendenta. Jason Lutes decide să-și implice activ personajele în politicul care începe să fie din ce în ce mai violent și mai prezent pe străzi.
Berlin – City of Smokes este de-o complexitate remarcabilă. Lutes este foarte dedicat studiului acelei perioade și reface cu o atenție de ceasornicar societatea de atunci, acordând în mod egal atenție atât politicului cât și vieții de noapte din Berlinul anilor 20.
Din punct de vedere s
Lars Guthrie
Jan 07, 2009 Lars Guthrie rated it it was amazing
This serves as a review of both volumes. The first was published in 2004, but it was wonderful to read them together (more volumes are planned). Lutes uses the Berlin May Day demonstrations as the dividing line in a two year story that takes place in the waning days of the Weimar Republic period from 1928 to 1930, just before the Nazis took over. Graphic novels are a beautiful medium to convey a rich and broad picture of history, and Lutes takes full advantage, creating something that prose or f ...more
City of Smoke, part two of Lutes's epic graphic novel set in Weimar Republic Berlin, sings. Reading it you can actually hear the panels: the music of the jazz band, the sounds of the city, the roar of the mounting political tension, the swing of Weimar excess. Any part two of three is difficult: part one has the advantage of the thrill of introduction, of origin; part three the excitement and satisfaction of conclusion. In Lutes's epic, of course the story moves forward, but Book Two has a disti ...more
David Schaafsma
Second volume of Lutes' masterpiece about Berlin/Germany as it made the transition to Hitler.. Rich, varied, a panorama of different aspects of society heading to ruin... amazing.
Dec 25, 2015 Akke rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nov 11, 2008 Giacomo rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: everyone who read Book One
Shelves: comics, fiction, american
It was always going to be difficult, to follow up such a masterpiece as [Berlin: Book One]... There's less cohesion in this volume, less of a climax; the feeling of impending doom is not as overpowering; stories feel more disconnected and inconclusive. It might be because this volume really is an in-between chapter, preparing the ground for the final showdown when the Republic will finally fall and all fates will be sealed; or it might be that Lutes was trying to capture some of the more startli ...more
Jan 06, 2013 Katy rated it it was amazing
Shelves: graphic
This is a well-conceived and executed graphic novel. The plot is an interesting mixture of historical fact and history-based speculation about what the lives of Berliners of the time would have been. The author, Lutes, explores through a variety of characters of different classes, political beliefs and backgrounds, Berlin (and the world) of the 20's, including many of the factors and, dare I say, subtleties, of how the National Socialists could come to power. This element is quite nuanced and re ...more
Eve Kay
Oct 21, 2015 Eve Kay rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, wws
Quite likely one of the best graphic novels I've read.
For some reason it's hard for me to put my finger on why this one was even better than the first one, but I guess it's that the stories gave me so much.
Especially the jazz musicians were a good twist. They gave me a look into a whole nother aspect of the beginning of WWII and also through the storyline of the musicians there were quite a few different scenes and sides to the prevailing society that were shown which might not have been otherwi
Nicholas Whyte[return][return]I really enjoyed the first volume of this series, and I really enjoyed this one as well. Covering the period from June 1929 to September 1930, it doesn't have the same narrative climax (May Day 1929) as the previous book, but it does have a strong set of internal plot arcs. Marthe and Kurt delve deeper into the heart of what makes the city tick, but at the cost of their own relationship; Kid Hogan, an African American jazz clarinettist, find ...more
Supratik Nandy
Oct 22, 2015 Supratik Nandy rated it liked it
The 2nd installment does not live up to the high standards set up by the 1st book. The artwork is inconsistent, the narrative not as dense & engrossing . But Lutes’ beautifully captures those tumultuous times ,the city obviously is a character & you feel the creepy feeling of doom looming just around the corner. God knows when the 3rd book is going to come out.
Venkat Narayanan
Dec 01, 2016 Venkat Narayanan rated it really liked it
Together with the first volume its a formidable piece of the comics form I have ever come across . Mr. Lutes is really good at painting the atmosphere through the characters. His use of thought bubbles is an expression of virtuosity in itself; He uses varied fonts and outlines across the book to project the character and they transform them into such real beings.

To be re-read.
May 14, 2009 g026r rated it liked it
Story-wise, there's nothing wrong with City of Smoke. The writing is certainly the same calibre as book one, City of Stones. Unfortunately, the art seems to have slipped a bit, feeling a bit less detailed and sloppy to the point where I occasionally had difficulty telling who a given character was upon first appearance.
Ludovica Lugli
Jun 03, 2016 Ludovica Lugli rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Quando penso agli Stati Uniti, o meglio allo stile di vita degli americani e alla loro cultura, non posso evitare di pensare: generalizzazione, semplificazione, superficialità, riduzionismo e al tempo stesso boria, presunzione, prepotenza. Inutile aggiungere che un tale atteggiamento, sebbene non del tutto ingiustificato, può portarmi a compiere degli errori.

Soltanto ascoltandone la voce su YouTube, vedendone il volto tra immagini trovate da Google, o leggendone gli interventi su un blog di Word
This action-packed, sex-drenched second volume of Lutes' sprawling Berlin saga, while perhaps not really any better than the first was for me more enjoyable and harder to put down.

The book introduces an American black jazz band to the mix, which adds layers to the racial questions already inherent in a story about Germany on a path toward Nazism in addition to providing themes that neatly underline the larger socio-economic issues (eg., the exploitation of workers). The book does seem, for awhil
Jun 02, 2014 Ollie rated it liked it
Now this is more like it. I get the feeling that people can't stop talking about Jason Lutes' Berlin, but honestly, the book wasn't really worth talking about until this volume. While the previous book City of Stones was concerned with introducing us to a plethora of characters (who unfortunately all look alike and don't stand out enough for us to really distinguish them), it luckily enough ended with a "what the fuck" moment. One that that hopefully raised enough eyebrows to motivate curious re ...more
Scott Patrick
Aug 05, 2012 Scott Patrick rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed the first volume of Berlin and had high hopes going into the second volume. One of the most enjoyable aspects of the first book was how Lutes would go off on tangents and explore the lives of random Berliners, providing glimpses into their daily lives and their thoughts. Lutes plays to that here, introducing characters who witnessed or were otherwise impacted by the May Day massacre that served as the conclusion to the last volume. They re-appear throughout the book and it's eas ...more
Dec 11, 2008 Sannie rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: German history fans
Recommended to Sannie by: Christian
Like the first part, I read Berlin: City of Smoke in German because I felt that it brought more to the story (in German, it's called Berlin: Bleierne Stadt). The Berliner dialect is still difficult to decipher at times (esp. when the characters Otto or Silvia speak). However, it brings the story a little closer to reality.

Lutes tells the story of Weimar Republic's end masterfully through his characters and true historical events (such as Horst Wessel's death and the elections in 1930). What I es
Jul 14, 2015 Helen rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Adults
Recommended to Helen by: No-one.
Both Berlin volumes are great - panoramic historical graphic novels of Weimar Berlin, and the deterioration of life just as the Nazis were about to take over.

Volume 2 - City of Smoke - follows the story of Marthe, but she is less of a protagonist than in volume 1; instead, the American jazz band takes center stage, as well as the heart-breaking story of Silvia, one of the children of Gudrun, who leads a street life once her mother is killed in a May Day demonstration, and her fascistic father l
Janine Flood
This and its predecessor have provided a wealth of information about the events leading up to the end of the Weimar Republic and the rise of the Third Reich. I did not realize how much the communists/socialists played into the hands of the fascists. There was a class war going on during the end of the 1920's that was not unlike what we are seeing today. That, combined with an ineffective government and a failing economy, can open the doors to horrors that I hope I only ever read about. So, the s ...more
Sep 24, 2014 David rated it liked it
A continuation of the portrait of Berlin that began with volume 1, CITY OF STONES (and to be continued in volume 3, which apparently may be published in the next year or so). In meticulously drawn black and white panels, whose varying points of view have a cinematic feel, Lutes tells the story of an assortment of characters--a pacifist journalist, a runaway girl, a Jewish family, a jazz group of African-Americans, and the circles of others they interact with--as their lives proceed from June 192 ...more
Jun 25, 2009 Michele rated it it was amazing
Usually one expects the second book in a series of three to serve as the lull before the staggering climax of the third. City of Smoke, however, deftly dodged that bullet by keeping up the frenetic pace began with City of Stone.
While the first book focused on the political climate of Weimar Berlin, these stories delve into the decadence and depravity of Weimar culture, a theme that I personally find fascinating. Lutes explores how a people could deny their ideological turmoil by seeking solace
Nov 18, 2010 Graziano rated it really liked it

‘And what a dirty, dirty city - the soot, the automobile fumes, the smoke from the factories.’
(p. 152)

The May Day demonstration of 1929 doesn’t solve the tensions between Communist and National Socialist, Jews and Gentiles. Jason Lutes in book two following various threads tells about people living in Berlin: the main problem is which idea / party is better than another to solve the deep economic crisis.

Marthe Müller follows Kurt Severing while he interviews survivors of the May Day. People s
Lacey N.
May 23, 2009 Lacey N. rated it really liked it
If you’re not an avid graphic novel reader (like me), put aside everything you think you know about the graphic novel and pick this one up. Jason Lutes’ Berlin chronicles the changing lives of Berliners in a moment of political shift as the Weimar Republic ends and the National Socialists gain political ground in the Bundestag. Lutes vividly recreates Berlin between the wars, a city swept up by its desire for Renaissance after a devastating war and subsequent economic collapse, and the everyday ...more
Aug 26, 2010 Stephen rated it it was amazing
This is simply an astonishing project. And maybe it's my growing familiarity with the characters, but I think I preferred this volume to the first one. The writing felt more relaxed, the art more impressionistic; it's as if Lutes' characters are fading into some long-forgotten dream.

And not a particularly pleasant dream. Sure, there's lots of sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll (okay, jazz) in the waning days of the Weimar Republic, but it is after all the waning days of the Weimar Republic, and all th
May 04, 2011 James rated it liked it
Nothing new to report. My experience was pretty much the same as with City of Stones, except maybe I liked everyone a little less. In this volume, Marthe, the bourgeois, erstwhile art student who functions as a hipster stand-in protagonist (more or less - there are multiple story lines, but hers seems to get the most screen time), plunges headfirst into a Cabaret-esque maelstrom of Weimar decadence - cocaine, lesbianism, and jazz, oh my! - but, even though she dumps her tiresome journalist lover ...more
Sep 22, 2010 Gphatty rated it it was amazing
This second collection ramps up the historical background, as all of the characters we have come to know get buffeted by the repercussions of the May Day Massacre from Book 1. More two-pages mini-stories; more drama; more politics; slightly less academic speechifying -- and nightlife in Berlin, including jazz clubs w/ "Negro" bands; lesbian bars and cocaine. I also really love how it shows real Germans caught up in the rise of National Socialism, without stooping to turn them into monstrous cari ...more
Mar 17, 2009 Tony rated it really liked it
The wreckage of history continues to pile up in Jason Lutes' second collection of his 'Berlin' comics series. The crisp, clear lines are reminiscent of Jaime Hernandez, and Lutes confidently shepherds an ensemble of characters through the Weimar era city. What I really liked was the syncopated narrative: frames and page layouts mimic the jazz rhythms of the visiting American jazz band. These rhythmic movements link the spaces and action, from the expected decadence of nightclubs and high society ...more
the gift
best graphic work ever?

why do I say this, when do I say this, yes perhaps it is the political nature and society of Weimar Berlin, the interwoven narratives, complexity of the story, way it moves scene to scene through entire culture, how varied pov are, including here jazz quartet from America...

and then again, I like the representational artwork, the realism, and so it is the story told in images rather than stopping at this or that moment. more political, more thoughtful, there are some pages
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Author? 1 17 Sep 30, 2008 06:49PM  
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