Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Winter World #1

Winter World #1, September 1987, Eclipse Comics
writer: Chuck Dixon
artist: Jorge Zaffino
painter: Julie Michel
letterer: Tim Harkins
editors: Timothy Truman & Letitia Glozer

A cold snap has gripped America. California Governor Ahnold has declared a statewide state of emergency (a redundant term now that I see it in print), as crops suffer from irredeemable frost and water pipes buckle under their own frozen weight. It’s a peculiar predicament that reveals how vulnerable we are to Mother Nature’s scorn.

Winter World is such a predicament to the nth degree. In a twist on the Water World scenario (although this miniseries came first), the world is apparently blanketed in snow, virtually held hostage by a persistent, bitter cold. Writer Chuck Dixon, best known for his work on Nightwing and Birds of Prey, focuses on a wayward trader who becomes the reluctant caretaker of a young woman that joins his aimless journey. Unfortunately, the two are enslaved by a fresh vegetables peddler, who warm biosphere becomes an ironically cruel and seemingly inescapable prison, until our hero is sprung by . . . I never thought I’d type this . . . his faithful mutant ferret. The end times are truly near.

Dixon would lead us to believe that his nomadic trader is a bad guy, as he assures his stowaway, “Listen up! If you weren’t some skinny kid wit no tits, I’d trade you to scum . . . and I wouldn’t lose a minute’s sleep over it!” However, at the end of this issue, following his escape, the same seeming jerk thinks, “. . . how long would it take before I could forget that kid I left back at the farm?” Well, according to your own words, how about a minute? So something exudes warmth in this perpetual December; little did we expect ‘twas our anti-hero’s heart.

I don’t think I’ve seen Jorge Zaffino’s work before, but he is good. The first several pages of this issue are solid, and although the end gets a little sloppy, the guy masters the human form and atmospheric establishment. When we see a work crew cleaning the biodome’s sewage system, we can practically smell the waste, thanks also to Julie Michel’s rich paint palette. This issue is a fine example of what scrutinizing readers had at their disposal in the late ‘80s: well illustrated tales of dynamic characters in challenging circumstances. As much as we want to be as tough as them, we know we can never truly bear their burdens.

Just look at the way we’re handling this cold snap! One would think we’re living in a winter world now, the way the news has personified the weather as if it were an elusive criminal with a carefully planned strategy. The way the climate swings in America, especially California, in a few weeks we’ll be complaining of the heat. No wonder Mother Nature has given us the cold shoulder. We’re never satisfied.

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