As a supernatural thriller, Colder #1 is packed with creatively smart threads and a menacing antagonist to boot. After the intense opening pages, the story deliberately slows down its pace and focuses on its characterizations. This is a twisted story about a well-adjusted young man who suddenly realizes he might be insane. How do you trust someone who isn’t sure if he is crazy or not?
WRITTEN BY: Paul Tobin
ART BY: Juan Ferreyra
PUBLISHER: Dark Horse Comics
RELEASE: November 7th, 2012
Many years ago, the inhabitants of an insane asylum were trapped inside a blazing fire. A mental patient, Declan Thomas, became the sole survivor of the deadly inferno, but everyone involved suspects he may have caused the fire. Ever since that horrible night of screams, Declan’s body has been mysteriously changing. Though he never gets sick or feels pain, Declan’s body temperature is slowly dropping. Time is running out for Declan as his temperature steadily reaches towards zero.
What’s interesting is how Paul Tobin starts off the story as a psychological thriller, then follows it up as a character drama. In the opening pages, Declan suddenly sees an evil entity coming out of a hole in the wall, as if traveling from one dimension to the next. Could all this be happening inside Declan’s mind? Or, is he really seeing something no other sane person can? With the premise established, the narrative then switches over to a character drama about Declan’s nurse. This is a deliberate change of pace as Tobin takes time establishing Declan’s nurse, who is quite likeable and well-grounded, completely opposite of her patient. Tobin gives readers a chance to fully understand how she fits into Declan’s regular life and what her relationship is to him.
What stands out the most is Jack Nimble Jack, who makes for a worthy antagonist. Jack Nimble can either be seen as a devilish prankster or a sadistic killer. Could Declan have a split personality and Jack Nimble be his alternate persona? During his introduction, Jack crawls out of his hole like a spider. After years have passed, Jack’s movements are more human-based as he stands on his own two feet and wears a business suit. Jack’s first murder echoes one of the kill scenes from the original Nightmare On Elm Street In his artwork, Juan Ferreyra illustrates a creepy facial reaction from Jack whenever he flashes a smile. Like a circus performer, Jack contorts his body into exaggerated positions as if he’s presenting a show before his murders.
The opening pages start out with a bang. When the mental institution is being burnt down, Ferreyra depicts the chaos as the nurses are running around and screaming for their lives. In the midst of the destruction, some of the mental patients are actually enjoying the fire. In the second half of the story, Tobin has to go through a lot of exposition. Through medium and wide shots, Ferreyra keeps the panels engaging as the police officer and Declan’s nurse are having a regular conversation. Always active, these characters are constantly moving around in a single location. It is quite impressive how Ferreyra can make these day-to-day situations look interesting, even though there is no scare or action taking place.
“Colder” #1 is an effective supernatural/psychological thriller with a few great scares. More importantly, it brings up many questions about the state of mind of the narrator, who always seems unhinged. After a satisfying beginning, I’m looking forward to getting some answers.
Rating: 3.5/5 skulls
Reviewed by Jorge Solis