Friday, February 3, 2012

Graphic Novel Review: Whiteout

Whiteout by Greg Rucka is a story about hitting bottom.  When you are a US Marshall, and you're posted in Antarctica, it literally doesn't get any lower than that.  But when you're sent there because it'll keep you from screwing up again, you hit bottom in more than one way.  That's the life for Carrie Stetko, a US Marshall in one of the most desolate places on Earth.

In the vast desolation, Carrie has been trying to make peace with her past. However, when there's a murder committed on her turf, her chances at peaceful resolutions are past.

The dead body is that of a scientist who is part of a research team and had been doing some deep ice core drilling.  At the murder site, Carrie finds that several deep ice samples have been taken nearby, which points to some sort of notable discovery.  Before she can hardly begin her investigation, Lily Sharpe, a British Intelligence agent, turns up asking questions.  With her boss breathing down her back, storms setting in, and a thin trail of clues, Carrie and Lily must hustle to find the killer.

Hoping to build off the strength of my Batwoman and Stumptown reads I decided to give another Greg Rucka penned graphic novel a go.  As it turns out, my instincts are occasionally quite accurate.  Though written much earlier in his career, Whiteout has many of the hallmarks I've come to expect from the works of Greg Rucka.

For one, it features a wonderful female protagonist that is remarkably real, and someone who is incredibly interesting to read about.  I was pretty much immediately taken by Carrie, and wanted to know more about her.  She's smart, tough, resourceful, and clever which makes for an interesting protagonist on any given day,  but Rucka has an uncanny knack for instilling his women with these qualities and still making them remain feminine.  There's none of that "strong female characters" bullshit here, which is a wonderful thing to see.

The other thing Rucka does quite well here is write a hum-dinger of a crime-mystery-drama.  I will say that the mystery elements in Whiteout aren't as polished as they are in his more recent works, but this is still some very good crime writing, and I as I mentioned earlier, I was very intrigued by the events in that take place in the story.

The art by Steve Lieber is pretty solid here too.  Whiteout, appropriately, is done in black and white, which instills the antarctic setting with a strong sense of desolation and frostiness.  Lieber's art in Whiteout can deliver some chills.  My one gripe would be that his action sequences were at times a bit fuzzy and hard to interpret.  This led to some confusing moments for me with the narrative, which meant I had to go back and re-examine the artwork for clarification, something I'm not a fan of doing.

All told, this was another positive Rucka reading experience, and I'm happy to say I have more of his stuff sitting on my shelf waiting to be read.  I'll be diving in soon enough.

Grade: B+

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