Cold Cut Distribution's Feature Spotlight #40 - June 1999


Whiteout

Publisher: Oni Press
Writer: Greg Rucka
Artist: Steve Lieber
Cover Price:$2.95
Frequency:Mini-series
Issues Available:4 + TPB

Storyline:

As the only U.S. Marshal (and just a deputy, at that) on base at McMurdo Station, Antarctica, Carrie Stetko is the sole representative of American law in that remote, isolated land. Not that there's much law-enforcing to do on the bottom of the world - it's just a bunch of scientists riding out the cold weather, cracking jokes and making up nicknames to keep themselves sane. It's not the "Naval Support Force Antarctica" (NSFA) to the locals - it's "No Sex For Awhile". Deputy Marshal Stetko, it's rumored, has been exiled down to that Antarctic post for some unspecified trouble she got into up north. But unless she figures out why only a lone, mutilated body has just been found where there should have been a whole research base, she's probably going to have a lot more trouble on her hands - and there'll be a new nickname making the rounds of the South Pole: McMurder Station.

Writing Review:

Greg Rucka, a successful mystery novelist, applies his storytelling talents to comics, with marvelous results. Whiteout is an exciting, gripping adventure with twists and turns on nearly every page. Carrie Stetko is a realistic, driven character, and her cohorts in the frozen wastes are no less well drawn, from the enigmatic British Ms. Sharpe to the long-haired American doctor. The dialogue is real and powerful, the mystery puzzling and frustrating, the danger very real. A superb mystery, and perfectly suited to comics - bravo for Mr. Rucka!

[ panel from Whiteout ]
Art ©1998 by Steve Lieber

Art Review:

Did I say this story is perfectly suited to comics? Let me be more specific: it's perfectly suited to Steve Lieber. Lieber's straightforward presentation at once expresses the unending whiteness and the run-down dinginess of life at the South Pole. The characters may not be "beautiful", but they perfectly suit their personalities: Stetko's ambivalence and driving force, Sharpe's reticence, they're all captured exactly. Lieber's art plays fair with the audience - it's easy to follow, and presents not only the facts but also the people involved with a true eye. Excellent job - and a perfect match with Rucka's great story.

Audience:

Whiteout is one of the best comics of 1998, now being collected into one of the best graphic novels of 1999 (just released in May). A solid, gripping, mystery with action galore and Antarctic exploration adventure, Whiteout will appeal to all mystery readers (fans of Bulletproof and other Known Associates books, or Ms. Tree, Detectives, Inc., and so forth), as well as fans of unusual and gripping adventure - try this out with readers of League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, or X-Files, for instance.Of course, Sin City readers will lap up another great hardboiled mystery like this one! I predict solid sales of this great standalone mystery - and when your customers inevitably come back for more, let them know the sequel ("Whiteout: Melt") is in the works for later this year!

If you like Whiteout, take a look at:


Nemesister

Publisher: Cheeky Press
Writer:Laura Behary
Artist:Craig Clark
Cover Price:$2.95
Frequency:Quarterly
Issues Available:6

Storyline:

Babette Buster is a Los Angeles Private Investigator who keeps hoping for cases more interesting than the typical "cheating husband" scenarios she keeps getting. Imagine her pleasure when she gets a missing person case dropped in her lap - but when she finds the girl she's tracing in a strip club and dead bodies start turning up left and right, Babette starts wondering if she's in over her head. As the rough stuff starts getting close, Babette starts letting her own internal demon out to play - a strange entity called Nemesister who takes over her body and turns her into a spike-suited whip-wielding bad girl. Not exactly your typical PI, I guess -- and not exactly your typical case of characters, including a strip club owner who's a former sheriff, a surfer dude who may be another shape-changing internal-demon owner, and a persistent assistant who keeps trying to get into Babette's pants.

Writing Review:

A mystery without a resolution, yet, and a sometimes bewilderingly large cast of characters. The writing ranges from down-and-dirty private investigator scenes (such as when Babette retreats to her "out of the way hideaway") to confusing pesudo-mystical stuff (such as when the surfer-demon-guy appears and tries to kill Babette). Considering we're six issues into the nine-issue series, it's a bit disconcerting that we still don't know why Babette occasionally changes into the whip-girl, or who the surfer dude is, but the more "normal" part of the mystery seems to be unfolding nicely, with the missing girl leading to the unraveling of a much larger crime ring, including murder, bribery, and teenage slavery. Overall, it's a quality mystery so far - I'm looking forward to reading the final three issues.

[ panel from Nemesister ]
Art ©1998 by Craig Clark

Art Review:

Craig Clark has clearly been working in Hollywood for a while; he has a clear animation style and a fondness for shadows and light. His art may sometimes seem a bit too cartoony for the material, and the rendering of people, faces in particular, occasionally comes off uneven - but by and large the contrasts, clean lines, offbeat angles, and minimal backgrounds reminds one of great cartoons like "Batman: TAS". The cover art is uniformly excellent: artistic and eye-catching. Overall, a good package.

Audience:

Nemesister is a mystery story with a comic-book-style twist, a PI who can mysteriously transform into a bad girl. This should sell to fans of mysteries (like Bulletproof or Whiteout), action cartoons like "Batman" and "Superman", and offbeat story-driven bad girl books like Cavewoman, Lady Rawhide, and the short-lived Wicked. Published roughly quarterly, around the busy schedules of both Behary and Clark (who both work in the Hollywood film industry), issue 7 of 9 is due out around June.

If you like Nemesister, take a look at:


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