Thursday, March 8, 2012

Graphic Novel Review: Whiteout: Melt

After the success I had with Whiteout, I thought it would be nice to jump right back into Greg Rucka's frozen, crime riddled antarctic world.  Whiteout: Melt begins with a little history lesson on how Antarctica came to be divvied up by various countries, then dives right into the action as a unit of soldiers storms a Russian research station, kills everyone around, then blows the whole thing sky high, but not before making off with something valuable.

Enter our hero, Carrie Stetko, who is enjoying some sunshine and green grass on her vacation in New Zealand.  Her brief period of R&R is shattered when her boss calls her in for a briefing.  It turns out the Russian research base that got blow'd up was likely also an arms depot, and the US government wants Carrie to go in and assess the situation. Carrie is initially unwilling, the job is out of her jurisdiction, and none of her business, but the G-Men ply her with promises of reassignment to a warm, sunny climate, and Carrie accepts the task.  Before 48 hours have gone by Carrie finds herself back on the ice and once again in over her head.

Whiteout: Melt is more of a cat and mouse espionage thriller than a mystery this time around.  The reason I say that is this one had that familiar "Cold Warrior" espionage feel that you often see in spy novels.  Which wasn't a bad thing, but this definitely felt like a very different story from Whiteout except that it featured the same lead character.  The antarctic setting was almost a character  itself this time around as it played a big role in the story.

Once again, Rucka delivered a story that was face paced, tense, and even had a couple of nice twists, with some cliffhangers thrown in for good measure.  All in all, pretty thrilling stuff, but in my opinion, Whiteout: Melt lacked a bit of the magic of it's predecessor.  The reason being that in Whiteout the characters drove the story along whereas in Whiteout: Melt the story is what drives the characters.  A small difference, but one that delivers a very different feel to the story.

Lieber's art is very consistent with the first volume, but I will say that this time around his action sequences look better, and flow across the panels a lot better.  I said it before, but it is worth mentioning again, the black and white art here only makes the world of the antarctic feel all the more frigid and realistic.  There are some scenes that are sure to give even the most warm blooded reader the chills.

Once again, Rucka delivers a strong story, but for my money Whiteout: Melt was my weakest Rucka reading experience so far.  That said, it was still pretty damn good.  Whiteout: Melt might not be essential Greg Rucka reading, but it's still worth checking out, and proves to be another solid chapter in the adventures of Carrie Stetko.

Grade: B-

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