Writer: Greg Rucka
Illustrator: Steve Lieber
Publisher: Oni Press
WHAT IS IT?
Two separate, fantastic crime stories that both take place in Antarctica.
It's a lot like a much, much better version of the Whiteout movie.
WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
The first story, Whiteout, is a classic whodunnit murder mystery. What makes it unique is that it takes place in Antarctica, where there are few people, and there should be absolutely no weapons, so murder is extremely rare.
A U. S. Marshal stationed there has to figure out who the murderer is. Suspects are limited but, unfortunately, so is her time. The suspects are all going back to their homes soon, and more people might get murdered before then.
Can she discover who the killer is and what their motives were before time runs out? Maybe. But she's got to get over her troubled past and survive the harsh weather and murderer on the loose if she's going to solve this one.
The second story, Whiteout: Melt, is more straightforward: nukes were stolen, and they have to get them back.
This one's less of a mystery and more of a race against time and the elements. It feels like there's less to talk about with this second volume. Not because it's bad -- the art is just as fantastic as its predecessor, but it just seemed to lack the depth of the first volume. Which is fine! It's a great suspense story. But it came after a lot of issues were already resolved, and the way it ends feels like another story would give closure and time to say goodbye to the characters.
Rucka is a seasoned veteran of writing stories, both in book format and in the comic book medium. Even though this was much earlier in his career, you can tell he just has a knack for writing suspenseful stories. There are clues throughout Whiteout that build the suspense and tension, in different, highly effective ways.
Rucka must have done an ungodly amount of research about life and work in Antarctica, as well as the history there. Reading how Marshal Stetko and the others talk about it feels so natural and organic and authentic because of this, it really helps bring the story to life.
Strong female characters have depth and nuance and agency.
In the first volume, it seems like the cold is also a symbol of being frozen in place in Carrie (AKA Marshall Steko)'s personal life, unable to move on from events in her past.
Once things start heating up (metaphorically speaking), the comic is nigh impossible to put down.
In the absence of color, Lieber's work with texture and shading is innovative and otherworldly. Honestly, a lack of color really works with the concept of a "whiteout," where all you see is snow.
Reading about all the tools and instruments Lieber used to create the art in the comic should give you a huge amount of respect for him as an artist.
The ending for Whiteout feels earned and good.
WHAT DOESN’T WORK?
There's no color, if that's a deal-breaker for you.
I had a hard time remembering who was who by names alone, though Lieber does a fine job of making most of the characters look different from each other, even without the use of color.
There's cursing and nudity and murder, so it's probably not for kids.
Whiteout: Melt felt more like a middle story than an ending – it went too fast and lacked the depth of the original story. There wasn't really a denouement after the action -- it just kind of ended, and we don't get a chance to say our goodbyes to the characters. It looks like there was supposed to be a 3rd installment that was never finished.
The Whiteout movie pales in comparison to the comic, but that's hardly something we can hold against the comic.
WHY SHOULD I READ IT?
Because it takes place in Antarctica, it's a whole new take on the crime/suspense genre. It was also nominated for a bunch of awards, so you know it's going to be a good one. Also, don't let my comments on Whiteout: Melt dissuade you from reading it; that comic won an Eisner Award in 2000!
WHAT DO I READ NEXT?
If you like the writing:
Lazarus by Greg Rucka & Michael Lark
Dept. H by Matt Kindt
The Fade Out by Ed Brubaker & Sean Phillips
If you like the art:
The Superior Foes of Spider-Man by Nick Spencer & Steve Lieber
Stray Bullets by David Lapham
Sin City by Frank Miller
ABOUT THE CREATORS
Greg Rucka – Writer
Was writing novels for years before writing comics
Highly influenced by Douglas Adams
Award Winner: Has won several Eisner Awards (and has been nominated for even more) for many of his comics
Steve Lieber – Artist & Letterer
Inspired by comic artists like David Mazzucchelli, Howard Chaykin, and Jaime Hernandez
It sounds like he and Rucka weren't on speaking terms for many years, but they're OK now
Helped found Periscope Studio, North America's largest studio of freelance comics and storyboard artists
HOW DO I BUY IT?
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