A horror book about a man whose body temperature is declining, and the creature that's been hunting him for 70 years.
Colder was a 5 part limited series by Darkhorse Comics that ran from November 2012 through March 2013, but recently the trade paperback was released, containing all 5 issues and some concept art and commentary from artist Juan Ferreyra. It's a horror book, but not quite your typical horror characters or plot. From the second I saw the cover of this book I had to see what it was about, and after reading the commentary about the cover and seeing the original design, I was not surprised to learn that this one was picked to do just that.
Colder opens in 1941 on an insane asylum in Barnstable, Massachusetts. It is here that we are briefly introduced to the book's protagonist Declan Thomas, a patient of the asylum, and its antagonist, Nimble Jack who we first see emerging through a sort of tear in reality. Although this scene is brief, and does not reveal many answers to the readers, you can see that this is their origin as far as the story is concerned; this is where the two characters meet and where they journey that takes place in present time begins.
The next scene is present day, when the events of the story actually begin to unfold. We are introduced to Reece Talbot, a nurse who is Declan's caretaker, as he's been in a catatonic state since the events of the first scene and none of the hospitals he's been a patient of have any records on him. We also learn something new about him: his body temperature has been steadily dropping for who knows how long, leaving him a medically impossible 40-something degrees Fahrenheit (I assume it's F, I don't believe they actually say; it just doesn't make sense for him to be 48 degrees Celsius if his temperature's dropping). Nimble Jack is also shown wandering around doing his thing, which happens to be draining the life force from people (in a visually spectacular way), preferably the insane as they're more "flavorful."
Nimble Jack ends up catching a whiff of Declan's "scent" on Reece and following her back to him, which is of course where things begin to get interesting.
Amazing artwork and panel structure. There's one splash page in particular in the final issue, where the Asylum from the beginning is revisited. The artwork on this page is nothing special compared to some of the more memorable pages, but the setup of the page is just fantastic. And it's literally just a conversation between two guys as they walk through the asylum, no action, nothing special to draw in, just a very-well executed walk and talk. Aside from the setup, there are some very bizarrely beautiful things depicted in this book, things which may be disgusting or terrifying, but also very well-drawn and colored.
It's a unique story, which is always great in horror. The actual origin is a bit cliche, but the plot points, character abilities, and places visited are original and excellent material for horror. You'll see a few "normal" characters thrown in too, and their reactions to what they've been tossed into are both memorable and believable.
There's still a bunch of things left unexplained, which is not necessarily bad since there is a teaser for Colder 2: The Bad Seed coming in 2014, but there's definitely some things not touched upon by the explanations given.
I felt they also overused puns or sayings with "crazy" or "insane" in them. I'm sure it worked a lot better with the individual issues since there was some spacing between them, but I read the trade in one shot and they piled up quickly that way.
If you like horror comics buy the trade, it's worth it. If you're maybe just into some darker stories, strange concepts, or maybe just some brutal imagery, I would still recommend at least borrowing a copy. Of course, it's not for children or the faint of heart, just take a look at the cover and you'll know whether you can stomach it. I will definitely be keeping an eye out for the next installment which is hopefully sooner in 2014 rather than later.