I was sent a review copy of Colder by Dark Horse Comics and I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when I read it. Looking at the cover you could be forgiven for thinking it was a zombie story, but Colder is something far stranger than any zombie tale I can think of.
Colder tells the tale of Declan, a ward of a psychiatric care facility that has given up on little things like ethics and drug dose control. A single incident kicks off a fire and a riot amongst the now extremely disturbed patients and heralds the arrival of one of the best pure villains I’ve ever come across: Nimble Jack.
Nimble Jack looks a lot like a human being, but he is anything but. It isn’t clear exactly what he is until the end of Colder (and even then there’s some doubt) but what is clear is that he is very hungry and that his favourite food is broken human minds. It’s not a simple matter of just gorging on the crazy though, and Jack makes a point of cursing Declan with a steadily dropping body temperature something to drive him towards a special kind of madness that Jack finds delicious.
The story then cuts to the present day where a woman named Reece has taken over Declan’s care. He hasn’t moved or spoken since Nimble Jack’s visit, he just keeps getting Colder. Everything changes however when Jack runs across Declan and Reece and they are drawn into a nightmare where the boundary between insanity and reality no longer exists.
Colder is a superb story that delves deeply into Lovecraftian horror without ever losing its sense of fun. I loved the idea that some of the insane are actually people who have unwilling insights into another plane of reality. There is a lot going on and a second read through revealed a lot more in the way of nice little details hidden away in Juan Ferreyra’s art.
The art style fits the narrative especially well once we start to see the things that the insane are bearing witness to. The sense of atmosphere the art gives the story made for a compelling, if disturbing, read.
If the story has one flaw it’s that Nimble Jack is such a compelling villain that the protagonists seem a little flat by comparison. I would have liked to have seen more of Reece as despite her occupation and intelligence she isn’t left with a lot to do except be rescued by Declan.
All in all Colder is one of the best things I’ve read all year and I’m keen to see the next installment. The cosmology of the world it’s set in has been hinted at but not over expanded on and it will interesting to see how that play into the wider story. I highly recommend Colder, with the one caveat that the violence is extreme and might be off putting for some. That said if you’re in the mood for a well written, well drawn horror comic then I recommend this without hesitation.
Andrew Jack lives with his wife in Christchurch New Zealand and has been misusing the written word for most of his life. He even got his first rejection letter from Random House at the age of four, who kindly suggested he learn to read and write before resubmitting. A life long martial arts enthusiast, Andrew spends his time getting beaten up by his friends, writing like he’ll starve if he doesn’t and trying to stop his cats from destroying his house.