Review: Polar: Came from the Cold
Polar: Came from the Cold, written and drawn by Victor Santos (Mice Templar), is a new graphic novel by Dark Horse. While the story is quite simple, the striking visuals more than make up for it.
The story uses classic Cold War story points to tell its tale. Our hero is never given a name, but he’s called a legend enough that becomes his unofficial name. While the silent protagonist is welcomed in mediums like video games, it became hard to relate to Legend. He’s light on personality, and even lighter on likability. We as a reader are supposed to like him because he is the hero of the story instead of feeling for him or cheering for him. It ends up being slightly disappointing, as Santos creates some colorful characters around legend. They all fall into Cold War and Russian stereotypes, but at least they are more enjoyable to read than Legend just walking around and killing. The entire lack of plot makes Polar quite the quick read. I was able to read the 169 page graphic novel in under an hour. At $17.99, this can leave the reader feeling a little shorted. As a lover of Cold War books and films, this tickled my fancy, so I wouldn’t mind price as much. What eases the burn of the price is when you start absorbing the gorgeous artwork.
Santos uses black, white, and red throughout Polar and its end result is beautiful. The panels flow naturally like a movie storyboard, leading the reader’s eyes to the next panel without any confusion. On occasion, I had trouble discerning what was going on in the panels, as the black and white only pages made it difficult to determine where characters were in relation to each other. Santos panel work is phenomenal. While he takes up pages and pages in a single fight, the end result had me going back to flip through again to see the progression a few times. A few pages seem like they shouldn’t flow well, given the placement and size of a few panels. But Santos guides your eyes well enough that you forget by the end of the page. I like the use of red, but it could have been toned down to be more impactful. The first big use of it was striking, and is visually stunning. By the end, it’s lost the impact that it once commanded.
The quick bonus story was quite funny. Santos forgoes actual dialogue in favor of the characters talking in pictures. It doesn’t wear out its welcome, and lightens your mood after the somber main story.
As with any graphic novel, there is always some bonus material. As with most Dark Horse releases, there are some sketches, and transitions from early pencils to the finished project. If you really love the story, you’ll love these designs.
Polar: Came from the Cold is a solid Cold War tale. Some wont’ want to spend the $17.99 on this graphic novel, but fans of the genre will enjoy it.
Polar: Came from the Cold gets 3.5/5.