Posted March 9, 2014 by Alvin Minon in Comics

COMIC BOOK REVIEW: 5 reasons to get Snowpiercer: The Escape

Here are my five reasons why you should get and read Titan ComicsSnowpiercer: The Escape:

1) It’s now in English!
There’s the French graphic novel. There’s also the movie adaptation by Bong Joon-Ho starring Chris Evans, Tilda Swinton, Jamie Bell, Alison Pill, John Hurt, Ed Harris, Song Kang-ho, and Octavia Spencer. But it’s only just now that there’s an English translation of the grim desolate future of Jacques Lob and Jean-Marc Rochette‘s Snowpiercer: The Escape. Translated by Virginie Selavy and letters by Gabriela Houston, Titan Comics has allowed its English readers to discover how and why the 1982 French graphic novel La Transperceniegecould be easily described as one of Europe’s best comics. Thirty two years of wait and it’s now available in English in hardback and paperback.
2) Easy to absorb setting
After the “White Death”, man’s left no choice but to board the Snowpiercer, a train 1001 carriages long that’s bound to run forever. Outside is nothing but neverending winter and life’s left no choice but to cling on to the locomotive and travel forever with no set destination. It’s this setting that makes not only the story but also the strife and despair on the train easy to absorb. We’ve got the train plus the apocalyptic theme working together as a convenient tool to explain the need of mankind to survive aboard a locomotive where not only everything’s provided, but also divided such as how folks are segregated by social classes and even the existence of institutions such as the government, military and religion.

3) Heavy story that hits closer to reality
The book has its fair share of nudity, graphic language and scenes portraying social injustice. In humanity’s last bastion, we get to see the the advancements of science doing its work, from the self-reproducing artificial meat to the plantations to the self-sustaining engine that’s supposed to run forever. We also get to see the alcohol and pills making its way aboard. And to no surprise, even the oldest profession would survive and thrive aboard the Snowpiercer. Despite being years since Jacques Lob envisioned his white desolate fuure, the images seem really fresh as if the ideas were conceived not too long ago. And despite the story happening in the far future, the scenes, the despair and all the emotions aren’t hard to imagine as they closely reflect issues being encountered even today, minus the never-ending winter of course.

4) A solid beginning that grows more complex
The book starts off with Proloff who tried to runaway from the wretched status of those who live at the back of the train. His attempt fails and the ruckus allows him to cross paths with Adeline, a middle-class lady who’se part of a group that sympathizes with the “tailrats”. Whether you’ve been on a train or not, it’s easy to understand why one would try to leave the back carriages and seek a better home. But that’s not just it about Snowpiercer. The book isn’t about the main characters rising up to the challenge and taking over the overseeing powers. There’s the violence, corruption, the fear of riots and plague and even the fear of the train’s engine giving up on them. It’s about surviving even after seeing everything that makes death seem a more sensible choice than living on the train. We’ve got a solid, nicely laid down beginning that’s easy to absorb but as you read past the pages, more layers pile up and later on you’d realize the snow’s getting deep.

5) The black and white art
Perhaps it’s best for the story that Rochette sticked to black and white. There’s the contrast that’s very striking and best reflects the harsh coldness of the setting more than any fancy coloring. Everything’s either dark or light. Outside the train’s nothing but white death but inside’s looming shadows and corruption. Sticking to two tones also depict the vast difference between the tightly packed tail carriages and the luxury cars with lots of space. The artist has also put good use to the two-tone drawings, giving more darkness to those faces that reflect despair and vile activity on the Snowpiercer. pair that up with Rochette’s illustration of the emotions and expressions on the train and you’d get a sense of how bleak life could be.

A solid story that’s easy to absorb yet rolls on towards deeper snow. Artwork that despite seeming off for a few scenes, not only best reflects the situations but helps tell the story of those aboard the train. Of course I could’ve elaborated my reasons even more and come up with a longer list. But that would just complicate things and you really gotta grab it and read it now before proceeding to the next volume, Snowpiercer: The Explorers.

Alvin Minon