Written by Joshua Williamson
Art by Jason Shawn Alexander and Luis NCT
Lettering by Steve Wands
Published by Vertigo Comics
'Rama Rating: 7 out of 10
Some say the world will end in fire, some say in ice. Writer Joshua Williamson holds with those that favor the latter with his new creator-owned series for Vertigo, following a trend of element based post-apocalyptic yarns from the DC Comics imprint. Following titles like The Wake, Vertigo is out to prove that it still has some ice left in its veins by bringing in DC exclusive writers like Williamson, although there’s still the pervading feeling that we’ve been through all of this before.
Frostbite’s point of difference lies in the epidemic inside the apocalypse. Decades after the world has entered a new ice age, the dwindling number of humans have adapted to live among the white-capped cities of the world. Within this already harsh environment, people live with the threat of a disease called ‘frostbite’ that literally turns people into ice from the inside out. South American survivor agrees to take on the task of transporting two scientists from Mexico to Alcatraz, although that may not be a straightforward task.
If the premise sounds familiar, it’s because Williamson certainly relies on familiar tropes to introduce us to his future. It works primarily as a shorthand to draw us into this alien landscape, and more than anything we get a sense that this is a lived-in world. Small details such as heat as a form of currency, or fights breaking out over a blanket, are all that are needed to convey the desperation in this place. Nevertheless, the other elements don’t stand out in the same way, as we run through the gamut of dead parents, the search for a cure, and the plot to kill for it.
Where Frostbite distinguishes itself is in Jason Shawn Alexander and Luis NCT, which is strikingly realistic and bordering on photographic at times. From the violent close-ups of the opening to the detailed machines, vehicles and new tech that pepper this outlaw future. The deep shadows and almost perpetual speckles on the page add to the sense of how desolate this all is, and Luis NCT’s deliberately muted color palette adds to the notion that the temperature is well below freezing, regardless of whether you are looking at the thermostat in Fahrenheit or centigrade.
The six-issue mini-series has a lot of promise, and even though there is a familiar set of characters already at play, it’s a slickly-told version. Frostbite doesn’t so much demand your attention as casually invite you in to sit by the fire for a while and warm your weary eyes. As one of the characters in the book notes, an artificial warmth is only noticeable when you step away from it, and this pilot doesn’t yet give us much of an indication of whether there is true warmth to be had from the series. We think we know enough of this narrative to say that, for now at least, ice will suffice.