“Le Transperceneige” or “Snowpiercer” is a comic book/graphic novel that has only just been released in English despite it being around for quite some time – in fact, enough time for their to already be a motion picture loosely based on it – though up until now it has only ever been in its original language; French. Titan Comics have jumped onto the chance to have this comic published and distributed all around the world and for that we thank them. Taking the apocalypse to where it has never been taken before, “Snowpiercer” mixes elements of sci-fi with an overall theme of class mistreatment. It’s quite the intelligent comic that has earned much praise from the masses, we’ll soon see why that is.
The Snowpiercer is (or used to be) a luxury locomotive before it was the juggernaut train that hosted what is left of the human race. A global catastrophe forced the known world into a all-encompassing ice age which subsequently forced the survivors onto the previously prepared sanctuary known as the “Snowpiercer”. Quite odd; not only was it already called the “Snowpiercer” before the snow actually took its rule but the liner was already prepared with an abundance of supplies just as the “cold front” hit…is it a story fumble or a case of smart mystery writing? The answer to that question is the one that doesn’t put you off reading the comic.
At the very back of the thousand-and-one carriage train live the third-class citizens, they’re basically a bunch of paupers who weren’t necessarily at that level of social status before the calamity but, considering they weren’t top shelf business men or aristocrats, that’s what they are now. Peasants. Proloff is a man who has recently made it out of the tail and has set his sights on the further carriages. Having survived the massacre many years ago that had the military mow down and get rid of as many citizens of the tail as they could, he now knows of the evil intent that the leaders at the front of the train hold within them. Making his way through the carriages and class systems, he intends to reach the engine room and try to figure out just what is going on in this damn train, and just what he needs to do to have it all stop.
I’ll outline the bad before I get to the good and sine there is more good than bad you’ll thank me for getting it out of the way quickly because the bad…it’s not so bad: It has quite a slow style of pacing. Now I wouldn’t go as far as to say that there were elements that were boring or scenes that were unnecessary, I just found that the volume in general dragged on just a little bit, nothing to drive a reader crazy but just enough for one to note it. It must be mentioned that this is the first of two volumes to which I assume the second volume will have a great deal more than the first seeing as the first left off with quite a cliffhanger. “The Escape” is a setup story essentially, it explains what it needs to and gives a nice basis for everything that goes on.
For someone like me that is a fan of action comics it can be a bit of a chore to sit through slower more spaced out titles but luckily for me “Snowpiercer” has some nice writing so I didn’t mind its sluggish pacing. I guess another thing that I didn’t particularly like was its lack of memorable characters, it’s basically just Proloff for most of the volume which is fine considering he’s somewhat of a lone wolf but I just didn’t like the idea of characters being introduced to then fade into the background so easily. As I mentioned, the actual dialogue was written/translated quite well. There were no boring conversations and each piece of dialogue that had the intention of being intelligent WAS intelligent but not to a degree wherein which it would loose audience members. There’s a fine line and it seems like Jean-Marc Rochette walks it beautifully.
“Snowpiercer” happens to hold some fantastic illustrations that both ooze style yet seem oddly realistic. Despite the fact that there is absolutely no colour between these pages, scene just seem to pop off of the page like none I’ve seen before. Unfortunately some comics fall into a “no colour” trap which saves time for them as they create it but doesn’t look anywhere near as good as their vibrant counterparts…”Snowpiercer” does NOT do this. Each panel seems to have been done with as much precision and detail as the last and it is consistent throughout the entire comic. It has a traditional feel to it as well though it is clearly a modern comic, it blended both past and present in a satisfying way. It’s safe to say I really couldn’t take my eyes off of this comic, I constantly got stuck on certain pages strictly because I was looking at the illustrations within them as thoroughly as I could. I was simply taken by how good this comic looks.
Apart from some small little things that I didn’t particularly like, “Snowpiercer – Volume 1: The Escape” is comic book/graphic novel that I would consider to be absolutely fantastic. It’s interesting, it’s thought provoking and it puts a unique spin on quite a real theme. Yes it does lack a certain “pizzaz” when it comes to characters and, yes, it does lack a certain dynamic pacing but those are two little things that stop it from being perfect, they don’t stop it from still being a great comic. I would honestly recommend it to any comic book or graphic novel fan, if not for the story than absolutely for the art style. It doesn’t really host any elements that would entirely put a person off of reading all the way through it so I can’t see why anyone wouldn’t. I loved it and I honestly cannot wait for Volume 2 to be released.
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