"A Frozen World" Graphic Novel Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by Eyekon Publishing
Written and Illustrated by Nick Andors
2013, 120 Pages
Graphic Novel released January 2014
You know the lithograph Relativity by M.C. Escher with all the stairs? Have you ever wondered what it would feel like to live there? From the look of the graphic novel A Frozen World, Nick Andors might have imagined just that. The comic is set in the dystopian city of Irongates, where hope is at a minimum and there's not much to do but commit crimes, dispose up bodies, or try to survive. A Frozen World provides four short stories, each leading into the next, providing you with a glimpse into what life is like within these walls.
From the opening pages of the first tale, Flight of a Nocturnal Vulture, you can tell that this is a unique graphic novel. While scavenging for food and supplies, a man finds a corpse with one arm cut off. Desperate for a smoke, he takes a drag from the cigarette still clutched in the dead man's hand, the fingers stiff from rigor mortis. That gives you an idea of the level of despair that permeates throughout the city.
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The body leads into my favorite story in A Frozen World, entitled Dying Love. Geoffrey has been working in body patrol, cleaning up corpses for decades. He hasn't said much since his pregnant wife was brutally murdered sixty years ago, preferring to keep to himself. Every year on their anniversary, he takes out her bones, puts together her skeleton, and shares a meal with her. It's both heartbreaking and disturbing. It's like a really dark version of the first ten minutes of Disney / Pixar's Up.
The following two tales, Anekka's Story and A Cold Farewell, pick up with a tortured young woman who turns into this world's version of the Punisher, killing gangsters and rapists. Anekka is brutal when she's on the hunt and her quest comes very close to torture porn. In one instance, she castrates a would-be rapist. While the punishment certainly fits the crime (especially in Irongates), it feels a little excessive. If Anekka was a victim of sexual abuse either by this man or from someone in her past, it would make sense, however there is no evidence to support this.
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Andors really cements the darkness and gloom that flows through Irongates with his artwork. It's presented in black and white, and this is one instance where color would actually hinder the comic. The lack of color helps illustrate just how hopeless this world is. The architecture is impressive and frightening. It makes you wonder who built this place to begin with. There are huge pipes smashed into buildings. What they're transporting is anyone's guess. The odd and intimidating outside makes the seemingly normal indoor scenes, such as Geoffrey's apartment, seem all the more unsettling. You get a glimpse out of a window and you're reminded of how strange and scary the rest of this city is.
A Frozen World is not your average comic. This is something that's a bit more intellectual and definitely for mature audiences (and not just because a dude gets his wang cut off). The stories flowing into each other is a nice touch that provides a bit of continuity through the book. I'd like to see what else the streets of Irongates may hold but I'm actually a little scared to find out what that might be.
A Frozen World can be purchased directly from the creator via the official website.