Snowpiercer volume 1: The Escape (OGN)
Publisher: Titan Comics
Writer: Jacques Lob
Artist: Jean-Marc Rochette
Letters: Gabriela Houston
Translation by :Virginie Selavy
“Snowpiercer is a train that is one thousand and one carriages long,” and never stops. In a far flung future (or maybe not), a train carries the last of the human race as it speeds across the world. This self-sustaining transportation has everything it needs to keep going forever, or at least for a very long time. The train is set up by social classes. The rich and powerful are at the front of the train, while the poor and less fortunate suffer every day in the rear cars. The train is ruled by a mysterious “president,” but its rules are enforced by his police/military forces.
There is also a strange religious group that worships the train and its mighty engine. They believe that their prayers and rituals aid the engine’s power to keep blasting through the icy tracks. You see, the weather has turned frigid after a cataclysmic war of some kind, and the exact details of that conflict are also in question. Most of the passengers at the rear of the train live in fear, but one man, Proloff, takes a chance, and attempts to move his way up through the cars. He’s caught, and the Lieutenant puts him in solitary confinement to make sure he’s not carrying any infection…or so he’s told. While he’s confined, the Lieutenant gets word from the front of the train that the top brass wants to speak with this man from the tail of the train.
Also, a young woman, who’s part of a group of protesters against the treatment of the poor, demands to see Proloff. Her name is Adeline Belleau, and she’s greeted less than cordially by the Lieutenant. He tells her that there is no man being held, and she should go back to the compartment where she came from. She leaves the room, but then sneaks in to see Proloff anyway. While she’s in there, the Lieutenant comes in, and informs both of them that they are to see the leader at the front of the train. The Lieutenant, a few guards, Adeline, and Proloff must then make the trek to the front of the train, which even under armed guard is easier said than done! You see, there is a certain seedy element aboard the train, and mysteries at play that even the Lieutenant doesn’t know about!
The book was a quick read, but certainly an entertaining one. The main characters all play their parts well. The Lieutenant is rough and makes quick decisions. Proloff is a little harder to read, but I think more of his past and motives will be revealed in the next volume. Adeline is a great player in this story. She’s tough but sensitive at the same time. She shows moments of weakness, and also strength. Quite an interesting character, for sure! The scenes (that I won’t spoil) at the end of the book lead us to believe that there can be many more stories told for Snowpiercer, and that is very intriguing.
From an artistic standpoint, the book is marvelous. The panel layouts are good, and most of the pages flow very well. There were two or three pages that were slightly difficult to follow, though. The “look” of the three main characters (Lieutenant, Proloff, Adeline) was fantastic. All three of them were spot on for a story like this one. They are exactly what you’d imagine if this was a prose book instead of a graphic novel.
The only bit of negativity for me personally was the use of foul language. It didn’t feel out of place, or forced, but the measure I use for these instances is to subtract those specific words from the story, and see if it takes anything away from the substance. In this case, you most certainly could have easily taken those words out, and the story would have lost absolutely nothing. Other than that, the book was very well done, and couldn’t have been better aside from being in color instead of black and white.