Nothing screams the holidays to us in the Die Hard Christmas movie camp like espionage, snow, and blood. And boy, does Victor Santos deliver us the goods with his new graphic novel Polar: Came from the Cold. Seriously, there’s so much beautifully abstracted, minimalist snow-blood. But that’s pretty much Victor Santos’s bag, right? Awesome artwork with such ample and perfect use of negative space that it’ll make you weep.
Anyway, Polar: Came from the Cold blasts off from the first cells, wasting no time in establishing that the crazy-deadly protagonist Black Kaiser (from Black Kaiser, duh) has come out of retirement to fight against his old agency, Damocles. Which is, exactly as you would imagine it, a fire-fight frenzy to satisfy all of the action junkies out there. And I did mention that it’s a beautiful fire-fight frenzy, right?
The main downside to this comic lies in the character development; there isn’t any. Which isn’t to say that I don’t think the one-dimensional approach is unintentional. I think that quick-cut stereotypes squeezing triggers is meant to serve the genre. Yet, because I love a good story (and, more importantly, a good comic book), I’ve come to expect a little more from my action heroes and the people who they are fighting against.
Polar: Came from the Cold doesn’t need to have long, expositional scenes explaining the motives for every character. That would undoubtedly bore readers and ruin the lighting pace of the comic that fuels the reader with a sense of excitement. But there needs to be more motivation and more relationship development so that every character doesn’t feel like a sexist version of his or herself. For real though, all the dudes are unfeeling killing machines who are either spewing bullets or shagging the nearest sex-object. The ladies are portrayed just the same, only with less clothing and a higher tendency to turn fighting into foreplay for no discernible reason.
Again, that one-dimensional approach doesn’t condemn Polar outright, but the fact that it was glaring is a signifier that we devoted comic book lovers, though we adore it, cannot be dazzled simply by gunfire and mixed martial arts alone. We came here for a story. We came here for characters who we can relate to. Polar: Came from the Cold is by no means a shabby comic – it’s beautiful and well-paced and interesting – but it lacks humanity.
But, for the last time, can I mention that Victor Santos’s artwork is breathtaking?
Get Polar: Came from the Cold through Dark Horse here or at your local comic shop.
[Disclaimer: A review copy was provided for me to review this comic.]