Just like the phrase, the grass is always greener when it's not covered in permafrost, the second issue of Winterworld by Chuck Dixon, Butch Guice, and Diego Rodriguez takes our dynamic duo (and their badger) and gives them a nice warm sense of hope right before yanking the ice from under them. Picking up from last issue with Scully, Wynn, and Rah Rah escaping an inhospitable welcoming party on the frozen Panama canal. Once free, they continue their journey to find Wynn's parents. Unknown to them however, the monkey-skin wearing cannibals are the least of their worries as a character from their past has begun pursuing them. Drawn to a small village with rumors of outdoor farms, Scully and Wynn soon find that they might have been safer with the cannibals.
On first glance, one might be tempted to see Winterworld as one of many, many other post-apocalyptic stories that follows a grizzled, cynical protagonist and his young ward on a loosely defined quest with danger at every turn. What sets Winterworld apart from such similar stories is the heart at the center of the two characters Scully and Wynn. While they sit comfortably in their archetypal roles, they also share a connection that feels genuine. Scully certainly plays the role of the protector for young Wynn at times, but he also gives her space and lets her explore on her own. They're relationship is kind of like two friends on a road trip. Sure, they'll argue and fight and try cocaine on accident, but they also share a comfort in each other that reassures both them and the reader that things will be okay, That is, until things aren't. Dixon still maintains a sense of ever-present danger that seems to loom on the horizon until Wynn and Scully crash right into it. It's how both this and the last issue ended. It's a little repetitive, but Skitters's reintroduction in the middle breaks up the routine nicely.
One of my favorite things about living where it snowed was the way the world would fall to a weird kind of tranquil silence when the ground was coated in a layer of the stuff. Snowballs were pretty rad too. Anyway, Diego Rodriguez's colors in this issue give the same sense of pseudo-zen. The blues and whites of the background are beautiful in their sparsity. The panels feel cold and cozy. It's easy to forget how overwhelming it all is. Then there's the overbearing heat of Skitters's flamethrower where the panels literally explode in orange (and carcasses). It's a great antithesis to the rest of the story. The introduction of La Niña with it's specks of green spotting the ground is another great work of coloring. The sun bouncing off the greens, blues, and whites, of the town soak it in a radiance that rivals that of both the previous orange and blues. It's both cool and warm. While the scene with the flamethrower gives the sense of extreme heat, the page of La Niña irradiates comfort. It's the splash page equivalent of sweater weather. On par with Rodriguez's coloring, Butch Guice does well with the pencils and inks. He adds a sense of grit and grain that accompanies the theme of the end of the world. The hollowed out boat and abandoned hanger look like they've seen better days. And the characters all give a sense of themselves in the way they're drawn. Wynn's face is soft and unlined. She's the epitome of innocence. Scully is a little gruff and rugged, but not overly so. Then, there's Skitters again. His face is ragged and cut up. His hair looks like he stuck a fork in a socket. Everything about his character screams ruthlessness.
Things are definitely going places in this issue of Winterworld. The story is setting up, but it also drags on a little too much. The original run of Winterworld was great, but it also didn't cover that much ground. This time around, Chuck Dixon is exploring more of the world and while he and his artists do a great job of making the story feel expansive, the momentum kind of suffers. Danger, travel, travel, danger is only so rewarding. That's not to say there shouldn't be any stakes involved. But in a world as covered in snow and ice, you don't need to look too far for hazards. Then again, this is only the second issue and things might start looking up for Wynn and Scully (at least until Skitters catches up). We'll just have to see where Dixon takes the story from here. This issue (and newest exploration into the world of Winterworld) however repetitive was a nice look at the relationships of the characters and the art was pretty stunning. If you're a fan of the original run or if you just like stories about a man, a girl, and a badger chilling in the post-apocalypse, I'd say this is in a book for you.
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