Back in January I shared some pictures, concept art and music from a Joon-ho Bong film called Snowpiercer. It looked incredible, based on a French graphic novel and starting the likes of Chris Evans, John Hurt and Tilda Swinton. The film is reviewing well at IMDB which also suggests the US release is still to come. UK release? No such luck.
There is hope, though. Titan Books has translated Volume 1: The Escape and Volume 2: The Explorers into English. This is a review of volume 1 and it is one of those times that knowing there is more to come gives you some hope.
Snow Piercer is the name of an advanced and hugely long train that contains the last humans on Earth. We wrecked the world and cast it into an everlasting winter. It’s so cold outside that you will die in minutes. The survivors remain in the train – the Snow Piercer – as it circles around and around. That’s all of humanity squeezed into 1001 train carriages.
I’m reminded of Dante’s Inferno. The comic book begins as a refugee escapes from the hugely over-crowded tail of the train. He climbs through the toilet before being caught by guards.
It seems that no one outside the hellish tail of the train has any time for those stuck there. In fact, they’re a drag on the whole train and survival. Proloff, our refugee, is summoned further up the train to be quizzed. This entire comic book is set inside a train. You could call it a road movie style plot except the terminology would be an awful match.
I mentioned Dante’s Inferno? Each new block of train carriages seem to have a new sin. There’s the carriages where they harvest meat from an ever-living block of flesh. It twitches, though, and the characters wonder if it can feel pain. There are carriages where board survivors engage in nothing but drugs and sex, although sometimes raiding other parts of the train for new women to join in.
Don’t expect Proloff to fix all these wrongs. How could he? Besides, Proloff never grabbed me as a character I could support. Sure, he’s escaping hell but he does nothing to win me over. If Proloff’s inaction is bad some of his actions begger belief.
I really enjoyed Snow Piercer. This is a graphic novel that’s been turned into a movie and translated into additional languages. You kinda know it’s going to be good. I flipped through the pages not to follow Proloff or to see if he finds redemption but because I wanted to find out about the secrets of the Snow Piercer itself. I wanted to find out what the final fate of humanity would be.
It’s with mixed emotions that I line up Snow Piercer: The Explorers for a read. Had the graphic novel finished here it would have been terribly powerful.
My copy of Snow Piercer: The Escape was provided for review. Titan Books, Benjamin Legrand, Jean-Marc Rochette, Hardback, pp 144, £19,99.