October 5, 2016

The Pull List: 28 September 2016, Part 2

In the Earth's future a new ice age has left human civilization in ruins, with walled communities closing their doors against roaming bands of pirates and raiders. Of even greater concern is 'frostbite', a new virulent plague sweeping the globe that freezes its victims to death from the inside out.

Frostbite is a new six-issue miniseries from DC Vertigo, boasting a script by Joshua Williamson (Nailbiter, Birthright) and art by Jason Shawn Alexander. Visually it is pretty great, with large-scale vistas and detailed street scenes that really sell the dire situation in which humanity has found itself. Narratively it feels much weaker. Post-apocalyptic fictions are a dime a dozen these days, and it takes a lot for an individual title to stand out from the pack and showcase something original. So far Frostbite has failed to do that - although it still has five more issues.

It is reassuring, as a long-time reader of Vertigo, to see the imprint continue to make an impact with new titles and fresh perspectives. It's disappointing that in this particular case the new book hasn't quite pulled together. Anyone looking for a post-apocalptic miniseries will find a lot to enjoy, but it could be a lot better. (3/5)

Frostbite #1. DC Vertigo. Written by Joshua Williamson. Art by Jason Shawn Alexander. Colours by Luis NCT.

Under the cut: reviews of Lake of Fire, ODY-C and Saga.

Lake of Fire #2
Image. Written and coloured by Nathan Fairbairn. Art by Matt Smith.
In the Middle Ages, a band of crusaders are dispatched to the French town of Montaillou to investigate heretics. Instead they find aliens from another world. The real star of this series is the artwork: strong, bold, visually attractive and beautifully coloured. It really brings the story to life in a very European sort of a fashion. The story is - thus far - not the most original thing I've seen, which is pretty much the book's sole drawback. Only recently Abnett and Culbard's Dark Ages told a relatively similar story. On the other hand Lake of Fire is still told with a nice eye for historical detail and is certainly pushing along at an impressive pace. It has left me keen to see where the story goes next. (4/5)

ODY-C #11
Image. Written by Matt Fraction. Art and colours by Christian Ward.
You really are going to either love or loathe ODY-C. I'm not sure it's possible to find a middle ground on that. A sprawling, weird, sexual, gender-swapped retelling of The Odyssey, told in verse, it is certainly the most distinctive book that Image publishes at the moment. I adore it, but I can also see how many potential readers would despise it. It is certainly a challenging read, albeit one boasting jaw-droppingly good art and colours by Christian Ward. This issue begins an adaptation of The Oresteia told in limericks. The verse leads one to expect a comedy: it isn't. This is a challenging book, but for the right audience it's also a hugely rewarding one. One other observation: having recently watched the 1970s anime Belladonna of Sadness, the debt ODY-C owes to its visual aesthetic is striking. (4/5)

Saga #38
Image. Written by Brian K. Vaughn. Art by Fiona Staples.
Marko, Alana and their increasingly extended family are stuck on a war-torn comet while attempting to refuel. Something that is supposed to take hours winds up taking a lot longer and they grow stuck in one place thanks to their generosity. This is a particularly strong issue of Saga that pushes the story along well, and provides some nice character development along the way. It takes a lot for Saga to shock me these days - it tried a little too often in its middle volumes - but in this case I was completely caught off guard by one key plot development. Now I need to read the next few issues to see if it holds. (5/5)

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