Right at the very center of every greater horror story there has to be a terrific antagonist (yes, even if he’s little more than a slasher). SAW has Jigsaw. NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET has the delightfully raucous Freddy Krueger. FRIDAY THE 13TH has Jason Voorhees. HALLOWEEN has Michael Myers. TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE has Leatherface. These villains serve to embody the very horror we feel at the sight of them; in a way, they humanize the fear – make it relatable or, in the very least, measureable – and thus the audience knows more than a bit or two of what their darkest fears looks like. Without these visible antagonists, the films wouldn’t be exceptional. They’d hardly be distinguishable from other similar flicks, and, thus, they wouldn’t have any teeth.
What also works well – especially with contemporary horror – is that the protagonist must be flawed. This doesn’t mean ‘weak’ or ‘ineffective,’ but, rather, it means that, in some subtle way, he’s either contributed to his own downfall or has played some significant role in others suffering a grim fate. This is important because in righting this wrong the protagonist can become a hero; only by setting things back to their proper course can he achieve redemption for whatever role – however big or small – he played in the universe’s unraveling.
Now pay attention, kiddies, because this is exactly what’s at play in COLDER.
(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 …)
In hopes of saving Reece from a dark fate, Declan did the unthinkable; he took her back into the place of spirits – the Hungry World – and, inadvertently, he exposed her to her greatest fears, her darkest desires. Without cause, he’s brought her to the brink of insanity … and it’s insanity upon which Nimble Jack feeds. The stronger the madness, the more delectable the meal; it’s no doubt that Jack sees Reece as a delicious morsel, indeed!
Writer Paul Tobin has managed to turn up the stakes even higher by deliberately turning Declan – our protagonist – into the classical ‘flawed protagonist.’ In hoping to keep the elements of his world safe from evil, he’s accidentally done the unthinkable – he’s exposed them to the very darkness he sought to avoid. Now, Declan and Reece truly have nowhere left to turn as Tobin and artist Juan Ferreyra deliver a terrific closing cliffhanger in the last panels here. Both of main characters are at the end of their wits, and I’ve no doubt that’s where Jack wanted them all along! COLDER (Part 3 of 5) is published by Dark Horse Comics. The script is by Paul Tobin; the art is by Juan Ferreyra; the coloring is by Eduardo Ferreyra and Laura Binaghi; and the letters are by Nate Piekos of BlamBot. This single issue bears the cover price of $3.99.
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. To my surprise, Tobin and Ferreyra have managed to turn up the heat on COLDER with three consecutive issues. Nimble Jack still remains a bit of a shrouded mystery – we know who he is and what he does, but we still don’t know where he’s from or how he came to be (that may yet be addressed as this is advertised as a five-issue mini-series) – but that’s okay. There are still miles to go before we’re safe again, and it may yet grow darker given the turn of events in these closing pages. As Declan learns, you can’t be everywhere all of the time, unlike evil which constantly conspires when our eyes are turned away. Who knows? It could all be the death of him before this 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 3 of 5) for the expressed purposes of completing this review.