"Colder" Trade Paperback Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by Dark Horse Comics
Originally Published as Colder #1 - #5
Written by Paul Tobin
Illustrated by Juan Ferreyra
2012, 153 Pages
Graphic Novel published on October 2nd, 2013
We've all seen someone at one point or another that we thought was a total nut bag. Someone that had a screw loose or was a few beers short of a six pack. But what if they were crazy for a reason? What if a creature that feeds on insanity gave that person the little push they needed to fall completely down the rabbit hole? There's a bit of that in Colder, now available in trade paperback from Dark Horse Comics.
Declan was in an asylum for the criminally insane in 1941 when a fire broke out. Amid all the chaos, a being named Nimble Jack (think the Joker without the makeup but with greasier hair and no shoes) pops in for a feast. Jack eats up crazy like it's going out of style and he decides to play with his food in Declan. With a sentence, he sets the patient down a strange and chilly path as Declan's body temperature starts to slowly drop. Years pass and no one knows what's wrong with him. Tests are performed by various doctors and he's shuffled from hospital to hospital until he ends up in the care of sweet, kind-hearted Reece. After the girl has a run in with some hoodlums, Jack picks up Declan's scent again and wants to see how his food has aged. This is where the trouble starts.
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If this all sounds a little weird, you're right. Colder is a bizarre story that only gets stranger the deeper you get into it. Fighting someone like Nimble Jack is like trying to wrestle water. You're not going to get a good handle on it no matter how hard you try. You have to be a little crazy to go toe-to-toe with him and fortunately, Declan is more than a little crazy. With Reece's life and mind in the balance, Declan dives head first into the land of insanity to stop Nimble Jack at any cost.
This is where Colder really takes off. Author Paul Tobin creates a rational explanation for an irrational idea. Sometimes people are just crazy. For whatever reason, they're mentally unbalanced. Tobin explains that this is because they're seeing into a different world, one that would drive any normal person mad. Directions don't make sense. Monsters walk the streets. Buildings look like an M.C. Escher painting. Declan can travel through this world by reaching into the mind of a lunatic. As a way to make up for this inconvenience, he can also cure them of their insanity but at a cost to himself. It makes him even colder and the lower his body temperature, the weaker he becomes.
Tobin's story would have been pretty cool on its own, but it's truly amplified by Juan Ferreyra's artwork. It's one thing to talk about insanity but it's another thing entirely to show it. Ferreyra brings the crazy in spades. When we're first introduced to the land of madness, it's like a horrible dystopian future. Everything is bleak, grey, and devoid of life. It's a place I'd never want to find myself stranded in. This is a direct contrast to the bright, vibrant real world. Ferreyra handled the colors as well as the pencils on Colder and did a fantastic job with it. He really sets the tone with the coloring throughout the book.
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The creatures that inhabit this crazy dimension are living nightmares. The world takes your biggest fears and multiplies them a thousand fold. An agoraphobic woman is forced onto a stage with a huge audience starring up at her with big eyeballs for heads. A man terrified of dogs finds himself face to face with a pack of giant canines with human hands for legs. I can't even begin to describe what comes after the dogs aside from the fact that it's now what I see when I close my eyes and it makes me want to weep.
Colder is a top-notch comic that provides the best visual explanation of insanity that I've ever seen. You might be a little crazy after reading it, but it's worth it for the incredible art and the dynamite story