Advance Review – Everfrost #1 (Black Mask Studios)

Publisher: Black Mask Studios
Writer: Ryan K Lindsay
Illustrations: Sami Kivela
Colours: Lauren Affe
Letters: Jim Campbell
Release Date: 2nd June 2020

If one were to flick through the pages of Everfrost, you’d be forgiven for thinking that this could be a strange gonzo sci-fantasy; albeit a very well-illustrated one. There’s a talking monkey, crystalline ogre, body-modded clones, barbarians riding what look like ice dragons or wyverns. Yeah, this has a lot going on, with every panel bringing some new delight or conundrum.

I would love to give a meaningful synopsis, but I’m not sure I could do one justice here. It would be wrong to try and sum this debut issue up in a few lines, but alas, that is what is often needed. At a very high level, we have a scientist, someone who has experienced great loss in their life, trying their best on the fringes of what passes for society to reclaim their place amongst the stars. Having effectively forgotten how to ignite the fires and soar heavenward, the discovery of a huge space faring cyclopean beast has led our heroine, aided by the aforementioned talking monkey, to conduct experimentations in an effort to aid their people.

For all the strange imagery and ideas contained in here, the story is pretty heavy going. I don’t mean that it’s a slog to read, more that there’s a density of concepts in here that take time to unpick and unravel. Exploring the shades of grey in morality within science itself. Is the death of one creature ever valid in the elevation of another? Do the ends ever justify the means? To build something truly great, perhaps we have to deconstruct, if not out right obliterate, that which comes before.

What prevents this exploration of “change, loss, and determination” from spiraling into a nihilistic embrace of the lack of control is the solid pacing of writing and balance of imagery. There are weird and wonderful elements here but they’re not played for humour or shock. The strangeness in effect being ramped up by how commonplace it seems and the lack of response from the characters therein. Similarly, for all the banality and indifference of the characters, we can still marvel at the colours and lines on the journey.

I’ve re-read this issue a couple of times now and each time I am surprised by the page count. It feels like there is so much more here than what can be contained in such a slim offering. The team have presented an evocative opening which asks more than it answers. With so much going on, I’m still a little bamboozled, and whilst it requires a bit of work, Everfrost is a rewarding read. I’m hopeful that such a short arc is enough time to expound on the ideas presented here, as with so much going on, it’s difficult to tell from this issue how much ground we’ll cover.

Rating: 3.5/5.

The writer of this piece was: Adam Brown
Adam Tweets from @brother_rooster

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