EVERFROST, ISSUES #1-4
Writer: Ryan K. Lindsay
Artist: Sami Kivelä
Publisher: Black Mask Studios
WHAT IS IT?
A science-fiction fantasy about a war-torn world and escaping one’s past.
Think John Carter Of Mars meets Sin City.
WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
On a frozen planet ravaged by war, space travel is banned by the Ward, an organization of warlords obsessed with hoarding knowledge. Van, a damaged scientist, seeks to escape this world by breeding an Ennio, a space-traveling monstrosity that crashed into the planet long ago. After seven cycles of attempts, she finally has a successful implant with one of the local creatures and tries to send out a signal to her people.
Being unsuccessful, she and her animal sidekick, Eight, set off for the Downs, a farming village that helped Van years ago, in hopes that they can help her get into Ward territory and contact her kin. When they arrive, the village appears abandoned and the world seems to have advanced decades while they were working on the Ennio. Will they be able to navigate these strange circumstances and make contact with Van's people? Or will they be led to something much more sinister?
Ryan K. Lindsay’s prose-heavy approach allows for many poetic moments in the story. These moments truly elevate the emotional core of the book and make the reader feel transported into this world.
The artwork of Sami Kivelä does an exemplary job of giving the text time to develop and paces the melancholic mood well. One of the ways he masters this is through his use of interconnected panels which make the reader feel like every movement in a scene is meaningful.
One can feel the cold and darkness thanks to Lauren Affe’s colors. Everything is muted and tinged blue, which reminds readers of old crime films, perfectly setting the tone of the Everfrost.
Thanks to the story’s crime-noir type narrative peppered throughout, lots of text had to be spaced within the panels, which Jim Campbell absolutely nails. His placements never halt the flow of dialogue and feel placed in just the right spot within each scene to direct the reader across the beautiful artwork.
A plethora of inner monologue and narrative gives the reader a stunning glimpse into Van’s psyche. One feels quite intimate with the character’s trauma and motivations by the end.
Sami’s more creative and dynamic style for the action scenes makes them feel quick and lively. His paneling in particular is most interesting in these sections and is a pleasant contrast from the story’s prominent slow burn.
One technique sprinkled throughout that is particularly effective is the use of completely blacked-out panels with a single line of text in the corner. The lack of balloons and color makes the words feel ominous and important.
As a whole, the art and story blend elements from different genres very well and create a unique setting.
WHAT DOESN’T WORK
Content Warning: This book features some graphic violence and lots of adult language which could be a turn-off for some readers.
The plot is very dense, making it easy for readers to miss important details. Multiple mysteries are tackled simultaneously. This story would have benefitted from being longer than four issues so that all of the plot points had time to breathe.
Within a similar vein, worldbuilding could have been handled better and more clarity would have assisted in immersing the reader into this complex environment. Details like the origins of the Ward and the Bloom, and other features of this ice world were not as clear as they could have been and would have better demonstrated the strife of living on this planet.
Van’s past and relationship with her family should have been explored earlier so that later revelations had a stronger emotional punch. At times, the reader feels like they’re jumping into the middle of something without information establishing how these characters feel about an interaction.
Some of the narration breaks the fourth wall, and a few times it is used to gloss over parts that would have benefitted from character dialogue.
WHY SHOULD I READ IT?
Everfrost does incredible work evoking intense emotions in readers. The focus on the story being told through Van’s perspective and thoughts allows one to inhabit the body of this character and experience these feelings firsthand. She has to deal with so much trauma, including the loss of her son, her strained relationship with her husband and family while following her nihilistic quest to leave the planet. Hope and the consequences of running are major themes that are tackled through Van’s interactions with the world around her, which she ultimately has to reconcile. Despite the plateful of negative emotions, the reader will find themselves rooting for Van as she clings to the last bit of memory of her son. The story is a rollercoaster, but a satisfying one.
Of course, none of this emotion or storytelling would be nearly as impactful without the art. It is here that the story truly shines. The heavy use of connected linework to display movement allows the reader to sit back and digest the thoughts of Van in each scene and appreciate the dreary landscape around her. Speaking of dreary, the colors perfectly display this planet’s general melancholy. Because of the frozen setting, everything is tinged blue like a fog of sadness that touches every character. Tying off everything nicely, the letters adds so much to the movement of the story and the pace of each page. Overall, it is the art team that makes this story arouse readers’ hearts.
These books are great for anyone craving something with some quality emotional meat and character-focused, noir-esque storytelling. Fans of comics featuring new and unique worlds will also get a kick out of the setting traversed in Everfrost.
WHAT DO I READ NEXT?
If you like the writing:
Beautiful Canvas by Ryan K. Lindsay & Sami Kivelä
Eternal by Ryan K. Lindsay & Eric Zawadski
Heavy Liquid by Paul Pope
If you like the art:
Abbott by Saladin Ahmed & Sami Kivelä
Machine Gun Wizards by Christian Ward & Sami Kivela
Hadrian’s Wall by Kyle Higgins, Alec Siegel, & Rod Reis
ABOUT THE CREATORS
Ryan K. Lindsay (@ryanklindsay) – Writer
Primarily published in the independent sphere, Ryan has also written Beautiful Canvas, Eternal, and Godkiller: Tomorrow’s Ashes #3 for Black Mask Studios, as well as several Kickstarter projects, but has also had work published by Dark Horse and Vertigo.
His book with Owen Gieni, Negative Space, won the Aurealis Award and a Bronze Ledger Award in 2017.
Ryan hails from Australia and allegedly hones his writing skills by sacrificing wombats.
Sami Kivelä (@sami_kivela) - Artist
Sami has been widely published having contributed art for books published by Boom! Studios (Abbott), Dark Horse (Machine Gun Wizards), Aftershock (Undone By Blood), Zenescope (Grimm Fairy Tales), and Black Mask (Beautiful Canvas).
He and the creative team for Abbott were nominated for a Hugo award in 2019.
Sami is Finnish and currently resides in Helsinki.
Lauren Affe (@laurenaffe) – Colorist
Lauren has done coloring for almost every major publisher and is best known for her work on Spider Gwen and Stranger Things.
She is the colorist for the new Comixology original comic, Astonishing Times, written by Frank J. Barbiere and Ruairí Coleman.
Lauren’s coloring portfolio can be found at laurenaffe.com.
Jim Campbell (@campbellletters) – Letter
A prolific letter, Jim’s work can be found at nearly every major publisher and has most recently worked on Donny Cates’ fantastic Venom run.
He has been nominated for multiple awards including the Ringos, Tripwire, and twice for the Eisners.
Jim maintains a blog, Man of Letters, where he publishes updates and insider info on the comics industry.
HOW DO I BUY IT?
The image(s) used in this article are from a comic strip, webcomic or the cover or interior of a comic book. The copyright for this image(s) is likely owned by either the publisher of the comic, the writer(s) and/or artist(s) who produced the comic. It is believed that the use of this image(s) qualifies as fair use under the United States copyright law. The image is used in a limited fashion in an educational manner in order to illustrate the points of the author and not for the purpose of entertainment or substituting the original work. It is believed the use of this image has had no impact on the market value of the original work.
All Everfrost characters and the distinctive likeness(es) thereof are trademarks of and copyright of Black Mask Studios or their respective owners. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.