Written by: Joshua Williamson
Art by: Jason Shawn Alexander
Publisher: DC Vertigo
Now that writer Joshua Williamson is a DC Exclusive, his creator owned works are now set to be appearing a Vertigo, which is seeing a bit of a resurgence after some shaking years following an influx of new talent. I’m a big fan of Williamson’s Birthright, so was eager to see what he could do for Vertigo. This introductory issue of Frostbite manages to be a solid start, although a little bit formulaic.
Frostbite is set 57 years into a new global ice age, the world runs on heat, a limited resource, leaving many to freeze to death. An even worse fate is to succumb to frostbite, reducing the victim to a block of ice. Our comic follows a small group of people tasked with transporting two scientists across the plains of ice. Things go south fast however as the scientists’ pasts make them targets.
I won’t lie, I found a lot of this plot to feel a bit formulaic. It often felt a little too much like a young adult dysptopian novel as opposed to the more mature entertainment I associate with Vertigo. You’ve got an altered apocalyptic world, a limited resource paralleling the real world, a group of hardened survivors and a deadly viral outbreak. The reveals and world building is admittedly pretty interesting and well paced, but it was hard to shake the feeling it was a story I’d read many times before.
Thing do start to heat up (I went back and forth over this, I’m keeping the pun) towards the end however, when something I previously thought of as a negative becomes the books’ biggest strength. When the, admittedly obvious, twist about the scientists comes out, the reaction of our main character is rather unexpected, and leave the book in an interesting position moving on to issue 2. It caught me off guard in that way only Williamson manages to do, and my previous criticism about not knowing much about the characters was wiped away when I realised that was exactly the point. I don’t know anything about the characters we’re travelling with in the story, which make me excited to see how future conflicts will be solved.
Jason Shawn Alexander has some nicely creative artwork in the book. Some backgrounds are blank which initially feels a bit lazy, but it does do a good job generating a feeling of a cold and snow swept landscape. It carries the oppressive feeling of the environment well and contributes a good deal to the world building. There are some really weird angles though, such as when a character is shot, it was really hard to tell where each character was in position to where. The perspective felt quite off, and while it sounds like nitpicking, it did suck me out of the moment a bit.
Overall though, Frostbite is a solid debut to a book that has potential, though right now feels a little formulaic. Williamson is at his best when he plays with old tropes twisting them into new possibilities, and given how the issue ends I’m excited to see how things deviate from the norm as we go forward. Though right now, unfortunately nothing about this screams “must read”, though it is nicely solid if you’re looking for a new sci fi book on your pull.