Sunday, June 15, 2014

My review of COLDER from Dark Horse Comics. An excellent, and horrific, comic book miniseries...

cover art for issue #3 by Juan Ferreyra
I was recently browsing through the Dark Horse Comics site (I'm a avid comic book reader) when a title happened to catch my eye. I had never heard of COLDER, but the wonderfully rendered and rather grotesque cover art intrigued me. I read through the synopsis and liked the concept behind the story, so I picked up the digital editions. The other day I took a quick peek at the first issue, and was immediately hooked! I read through the miniseries at speed, and was very impressed. The story is well written, and fast moving. The art is gorgeously detailed and has a chaotic feel to it in all the right places. However, I'm getting ahead of myself, so let me start with a synopsis of the story...

interior art by Juan Ferreyra illustrating the Hungry World
COLDER is a five issue miniseries available from Dark Horse Comics, with story by Paul Tobin, and art by Juan Ferreyra. The date is October 12, 1941. The setting is Sansid Asylum in Barnstable, Massachusetts. Residing within the asylum is our protagonist, Declan, who seems to be a bit catatonic at the moment. After the asylum violently bursts into flames and the inmates go on a rampage, Declan regains his mobility. Unfortunately he walks straight into the arms of evil itself, as the insane Nimble Jack pops into our world, naked as a jaybird, through a portal from... elsewhere. After greeting Declan by name, Jack orders him to grow COLDER... Flash forward to present day Boston, Massachusetts. Nimble Jack has managed to find some new duds (minus shoes), and is gleefully strolling through the city, quite hungry for sustenance. After we witness why "Nimble" is part of his name (he scrambles up a sheer wall, and slips through a barred window into a prison cell), Jack shows us just what type of food he has been craving. Striking up a conversation with the prisoner in the cell, Jack quickly drives the man mad. As the prisoner hangs himself, Jack feeds on the energy that is produced by the man's madness, and subsequent death. Meanwhile, elsewhere in Boston, we find out what has happened to Declan. Back in his semi-catatonic state, Declan hasn't aged a day since we last saw him. Taken in by a beautiful nurse named Reece (who is trying to solve the mystery behind his origin and his condition), Declan's body has followed Jack's order from when they first met. His core temperature has been dropping steadily since the incident in 1941, and no one can explain while he is still alive. Things begin to move on apace when Jack encounters Reece, and recognizes Declan's scent on her. Trailing her back to her apartment (all the while unseen by normal humans), Jack encounters Declan for the first time since 1941, and prepares for his feast... Declan's mind seems to be totally broken, however, and is untouched by Jack's tricks. Disappointed, Jack exits the scene, lamenting what might have been. And then, Declan wakes up. The story really gets rolling at this point, with Declan and Reece alternately trying to explain events to one another, and trying to escape the clutches of Nimble Jack. Declan has developed some tricks of his own, but will Reece's mind be able to cope with the nonstop shock of these events? Especially when, in a last ditch attempt to throw off Jack's pursuit, Declan transports them to another dimension, the Hungry World? For that matter, what the heck is Nimble Jack, and what's this business about making Declan grow colder? All I can say is, pick up the series and you might find these questions answered (and you might not)...

Nimble Jack says "Surprise!" interior art by Juan Ferreyra
COLDER's take on madness, and the nature of reality is quite refreshing. This is one of the best horror comics that I've read in quite some time. The only caveat I have to that statement isn't really a dig at the comic. It's that I would have loved to see the setting, background, and characters fleshed out more. You can only do so much in five issues, and I would have liked to see the run doubled... at least. Thankfully I've heard that there is a second miniseries on the way, and we should be getting more exposition on all of these points. As I alluded to in the opening paragraph, the writing immediately draws you in. I read a couple of pages, and I was HOOKED! I had to read the entire series at once. The overall concept, and the execution of the story is quite masterfully handled. Although the story basically focuses on three people, it is laser-focused, and executed at the highest level. When we get another entry in this universe, I'm sure Paul will widen his scope. As far as the art goes... What can I say? Juan's renderings were exquisite! Both beautiful and grotesque, he is definitely an emerging star. The expressions on the character's faces, the different tones and color palates between our reality and the Hungry World, and the sheer imagination behind his take on the varied denizens of the Hungry World was worth the entrance fee. His character concept for Nimble Jack was on point, and overall, I'm highly impressed by the quality of Juan's art! This man knows how to depict some really creepy stuff, and I love it! A highly unique art style, which I appreciated more and more as I read. I definitely need to seek out anything else that this man has a hand in. Highly recommended (and here's hoping for more)! Happy (and in this case, disturbing) reading all! I'll be getting back to reading a collection of short stories that I've been enthralled with. I'll see you next time!

The Hungry World. Interior art by Juan Ferreyra

Here's the Dark Horse Comics website. And here's the product page on Amazon. Swing by and take a look!

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