What I Liked:
As the life drains out of the inmate, a makeshift noose tightening around his neck, the color drains out of the panels, going greyer and greyer, as a wide-eyed Nimble Jack watches gleefully.
Color, line work, and direction drag the art of the story into the sublime. Whereas, in many horror books color is muted or simply blanketed dark, here, color is used to control the mood of the story, line contrasts define a villain, and the art could tell the story nearly by itself.
The villain, unseen to our heroine, frolics in her home. The memory of his last dubious crime sits heavily on our shoulders, as a sense of visual dramatic irony builds. I wanted to scream, shout, get her attention, tell her what dangers were lurking just under her periphery.
Visual storytelling isn't as simple as having a great artist and a great script, but, instead, speaks of a level of collaboratory direction. The story and art of Colder fit together seamlessly. Together, they project such an air of foreboding and dread that I was actually worried that the hero might fail. In a world of Hollywood endings, the ability to convince your reader that it might not actually be all right speaks volumes to the level of emotional complexity in Colder.
That emotional complexity is best displayed in the main character Declan.
As Jack stalks Declan and Reece through the world of nightmares, a grey world filled with suffering souls, Declan uses his powers over madness on those around him, driving them even madder as an attempt to escape Nimble Jack.
Though one is a lighter shade than the other, Jack and Declan shift through shades of grey. This non-dualistic attitude pervades throughout the book, and while Declan ultimately has good intentions, his actions are often self-serving and put others in danger.
What Didn’t Work So Well:
Two major issues and a minor one. Though visually stunning, as I said the book is gore ridden and disturbing, and though broken up it might have the desired impact, in one bound-up version it got a little excessive.
The second issue I had was with the ending. I won’t spoil it, but I found it rather sudden and unexplained, and though I later learned from the postscript that there will be a sequel, it still feels a bit shoddy. The rest of the story was handled so well that the ending just felt abrupt, with X number of mandatory unanswered questions shoved in to force the cliffhanger ending.
The minor issue is that I take some ire with anything that has to do with madness making reference to Alice in Wonderland, and, while it is briefly mentioned, I feel the book could have done without the rather tired reference.
If you are the queasy type, stay away. If not, pick up and read Colder. I can say with veracity that it is one of the best comic books I have read in years, and while I was not particularly fond of the ending, I want to read the second round of issues. Kudos to Dark Horse, Paul Tobin, andJuan Ferreyra; you did well.