Shows like THE TWILIGHT ZONE and THE OUTER LIMITS have always been fascinating, and this is the case mostly because not so much for their trick or unanticipated endings but more so because they delve into the magical unimagined. Person X has a curious oddity about himself – or a perplexing puzzle that defies the status quo – and then the audience is set upon a humble journey wherein the narrative seeks to make sense of it all. Along the way, there’s always good and bad – I’ll think twice about calling it ‘evil’ because one man’s evil is another man’s angel – and, despite the twists and turns of the story, there’s a character – at the core – who gives the tale its humanity. That character could be male, or she could be female. The gender rarely matters. What does matter is that, through his (or her) eyes, the audience is treated to a singular experience that’ll redefine what this world looks like before all is said and done.
It’s the ultimate vicarious experience, and that’s very much the mood and atmosphere at work in the pages of Dark Horse’s latest mini, COLDER, by Paul Tobin.
(NOTE: The following review will contain minor spoilers necessary solely for the discussion of character and plot. If you’re the kind of reader who prefers a review entirely spoiler-free, then I’d encourage you to skip down to the last two paragraphs for my final assessment. If, however, you’re accepting of a few modest hints at ‘things to come,’ then read on …)
Back in 1941 at an asylum in Massachusetts, a freakish fire out of control threatens the lives of the patients while an unexpected paranormal event marks the beginning of something far more treacherous. Fast forward to present day: a pale-faced Nimble Jack – a spectre, if ever there were – entices a jailed man to commit suicide and then devours what’s left of the man’s mortal soul. A few blocks over, nurse Reece Talbot now draws Jack’s attention … but what link could put these two disparate characters on fate’s awful collision course?
At the heart of COLDER is a medical mystery – a young man named Declan who’s somewhat defied the weight and aging of several decades because, due to Nimble Jack’s magical, mysterious touch, he’s grow ‘colder.’ Literally. His body temperature remains at a crisp 47 degrees. He shouldn’t be alive, but he is … well, kind of. Let’s just say he exists in a state of hibernation. Before this first chapter is over, however, Declan and Reece are in for a surprise that’ll put them on a trajectory for creative parts unknown.
To his credit, Paul Tobin fleshes out this clever world to great effect in a scant 26 pages. He presents this central puzzle – a man who defies the odds – as neatly and as evenly as I’ve come across in my four decades of comic book reading. The art by Juan Ferreyra is solid, with hints of mild cartoonish influences. Tobin and Ferreyra are clearly presenting somewhat of a fractured fairy tale in these panels – with absolutely no indication of where it’ll all be heading – but it’s told with such heart and mirth that audiences would be fools not to come back in thirty days to see what transpires next.
COLDER (Part 1 of 5) is published by Dark Horse Comics. The script is by Paul Tobin; the art is by Juan Ferreyra; and the letters are by Nate Piekos of BlamBot. This single issue bears the cover price of $3.99.
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. As is common in stand-alone miniseries, there isn’t all that much to go on here, but what there is is a great introduction to a new world – complete with its own mysteries. Who are these folks? What game has Nimble Jack put in motion? How will all of these pieces come together, and, in the end, what will it all mean? It’s an intriguing premise populated by unique and interesting characters. COLDER feels like it’s going to get warmer – a lot warmer – before all is said and done.
In the interests of fairness, I’m pleased to disclose that the fine folks at Dark Horse Comics provided me with a digital copy of COLDER (Part 1 of 5) for the expressed purposes of completing this review.