Rating: 4/5 – Visions of Madness Brought to Beautiful Life.
by ComicSpectrum reviewer Shawn Hoklas
There’s been a lot of successful and compelling horror comics that have been coming out recently from companies like Image, Dark Horse and IDW. Outkast, Wytches and Avatar’s Crossed just to name a few. Horror comics have a nice groove going right now and the wide variety of themes within the horror genre allows readers to pick and choose the material they may be most interested in. That being said, I knew next to nothing about the story being told within Dark Horse’s Colder. It was the cover alone that piqued my interest as artist Juan Ferreyra depicts an absolutely haunting image that draws you in and demands your attention. Not only does Ferreyra handle the cover, but his amazing art can be found throughout this first volume’s five issues as it tells the story of Declan Thomas, an asylum inmate who has the power to cure people’s madness, but by doing so his body temperature is becoming colder and colder and once it hits zero he’ll die.
Writer Paul Tobin’s published work has seen him on Falling Skies, Marvel’s Adventure Line of books and his wonderful digital series Bandette. Colder is unlike anything I’ve seen him do before. It’s horror and from that striking cover you may get the sense that it’s all blood, guts and gore. It does have it’s share of that, but it’s also a smart thriller with some big concepts and crazy ideas. Main character Declan Thomas has been passed from asylum to asylum throughout the years until he’s finally taken to a home and is cared for by a beautiful nurse named Reese. Reese serves as the reader’s point of view, the innocent and caring individual that will explore the world of madness Declan regrettably takes her through. As the story opens we also meet the villain of the story, Nimble Jack, a mysterious figure that feeds on people’s madness, sucking it out of them while killing them in the process. Nimble Jack has been allowing Declan to cure people’s madness, aging him like a fine wine until he can feed on him and the essence of those he’s cured. We also see a different world co-exitsing with our own called the Hunger that only those with mental issues can see. Again, big concepts and ideas that Tobin is using to lay the groundwork for future stories.
Unfortunately, despite the story being well told with the three main characters there’s a lot of things left unanswered and concepts still waiting to be further fleshed out. This isn’t the complete story, it’s just a first volume, there’s still a lot that the reader has to just accept without knowing all the details (a second series is planned). How does the world of the hunger work? Where did Nimble Jack come from? Just what the creatures we see within the world of the hunger? The tale of Declan, Reese and Jack is solid throughout, but hopefully future volumes will allow the world that Tobin is creating to make more sense. There are exquisitely drawn panels and pages within this book that you can pore over time and time again. Not only is the art wonderful to look at during the scenes of madness, but Ferreyra has a way of balancing that with solid pencils during the scenes of normalcy which make the extreme visuals stand out even more. If the cover image was enough to draw you in, then you haven’t seen anything yet. His colors are in wonderful contrast to one another across the two worlds and when the violence increases, so do the colors which adds to the overall impact.
Paul Tobin creates a solid story and interesting characters in Colder. The creatures from the Hunger world in Colder are grotesque yet wonderfully creative. Giant dogs with hands for bodies and landscapes that look as though they were designed by a dark version of M.C. Escher are just a couple of the things that you’ll see believably drawn by Juan Ferreyra. Colder is a visual feast for the eyes with images that will stay with me for a long time, Colder could be read for the artwork alone. It’s exciting to know that this creative team will continue their work into a second volume which is hinted at within the last few pages. There’s still a lot of story to be told within the world of Colder, and I can’t wait to read and even more so, see more.
Reviewed by: Shawn Hoklas
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