Page 45 Review by Jonathan
'Across the white immensity of an eternal winter, from one end of the frozen planet to the other, there travels a train that never stops. This is the Snowpiercer, one thousand and one carriages long. This is the last bastion of civilisation...'
"You lousy tail-fucker. I'm gonna break you!! You're gonna regret leaving your shitty carriage."
Yes, sadly the Snowpiercer does reflect our civilisation in microcosm all too well. A global catastrophe has occurred, probably man-made though that isn't made entirely clear, resulting in a huge drop in global temperatures and ushering in a new ice age. A luxury train, fitted out with all the mod cons imaginable, powered by a revolutionary, near-perpetual motion device, stood ready to receive the good and the great, plus the obscenely wealthy, obviously, to ensure those worthy fellows at least survived this apocalypse. At the last moment, in an apparent act of conscience, several hundred rather more basic carriages were added at the back for the working class, or the Third Class, in true locomotive convention.
Thus, over time, the train has evolved to become a tarnished mirror of the pre-existing society where the rich have it all and the poor are left entirely to fend for themselves. Very much representative of the current First World and Third World. An attempted revolt by the masses was quickly and violently suppressed and then all contact with the rear carriages was completely cut off, the doors welded shut and barricaded. Interesting immigration policy! Nothing was heard from the rear until now, when someone has managed the unthinkable, and breached Second Class by going outside of the train in the truly ferocious conditions to enter by breaking a toilet window with a hammer. The top brass, including the President, at the front of the train, are intrigued to know what conditions are now like in the tail and demand the man is brought to the very front of the train for them to interrogate. Maybe though, that's exactly what he wants...?
What follows during the man's journey through the endless compartments is an examination of the darker side of human morality, and I don't doubt much of what we see is probably exactly what would happen in that sort of situation.
It's truly Orwellian in nature, touching upon how politics, religion and all of societies' structures and niceties would probably start to fail and break down in such a situation, and indeed be used against the masses, as the selfish nature of mankind completely takes over. You'd like to think altruism would come into play, and indeed there are those on the train who do care about the conditions people must be enduring back in the tail, but they're not in charge. Unsurprisingly those that are in power consider these do-gooders just as potentially seditious and dangerous as the Third Class, and they have a rather unpleasant plan for dealing with them...
The black and white art put me in mind of both Jacques Tardi and Joe Colquhon, with the heavy and chunky use of black ink. It's bleakly drawn stuff which is entirely appropriate in capturing both the decimated world at large and the claustrophobic nature of life on the train. Some of you may be aware this has been made into a film starring, amongst others, John Hurt. Not entirely sure if it's been released yet or if they are still negotiating distribution, but have a look at this trailer if you are interested. There is some talk of a director's cut for DVD too.
Meanwhile, given the ending, and I am giving nothing away, I am perplexed / intrigued / delighted to report there is already a second volume entitled Snowpiecer: The Explorers.