"Frostbite #1" Comic Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by Vertigo
Written by Joshua Williamson
Illustrated by Jason Shawn Alexander
Colored by Luis NCT
2016, 32 Pages, $3.99
Comic released on September 28th, 2016
It's rather fitting that a book like Frostbite debuts just as the leaves are turning and the temperature is beginning to drop. The comic takes place in a future where the planet has plunged into a second ice age. As if that wasn't enough, there's also a disease (where the title of the book comes from) spreading around that literally freezes you from the inside out. Doctor Henry Bonham and his daughter Victoria have the means to cure frostbite if they can get to a special lab in Alcatraz. That is easier said than done given that people want to kill them. Fortunately, they've enlisted the help of Keaton and her crew to get the job done.
Keaton is a breakout character in Frostbite from the very beginning. You learn of the rough time she's had with life so far, losing her parents at an early age and doing what she can to get by and stay warm. She runs a tight ship...or all-terrain vehicle, and she commands respect. Her actions are a sight to behold. Artist Jason Shawn Alexander brings forth the cold determination in her eyes. It's easy to see why her crew trusts her and is willing to follow her on such dangerous missions.
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The effects of frostbite are quite literal. The body turns to ice, leaving a statue that was just recently a human being. This is conveyed brilliantly when we see an old man fall victim to the disease. It's shown in a single, wordless panel that speaks volumes. It shows just how helpless people are if they become infected. There is nothing you can do. Luis NCT's colors work well to bring out this feeling.
Of course, it wouldn't be a dystopian society if there weren't bands of outlaws and Frostbite has its fair share. There seems to be more to them than just trying to steal heat from others or killing those that get in their way. I'm curious as to what their purpose is.
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Writer Joshua Williamson is no stranger to twists and turns in his stories; see also Nailbiter and Birthright. Frostbite is no different. This time it's not a cliffhanger ending, of which he is certainly an expert. Instead, he pulls the rug out from under you a little earlier on, in a panel that is shocking and jaw-dropping. It's one of those moments that completely reframes the comic, causing you to look at everything differently. It works well and gives the book a huge push.
Frostbite offers a glimmer of hope in a world where most people's hearts have frozen over. Is that enough to save the planet from its icy demise? Are these people even worth saving at this point? It presents a harsh, gritty reality where staying warm means staying alive. Bundle up, kids and get ready for one helluva ride.