The Coldest City is an original graphic novel published by Oni Press. Led by writer Antony Johnston and artist Sam Hart, readers are taken back in time to the winter of 1989 in Berlin before the fall of the wall. History and Cold War buffs will feel right at home as real-world elements are still at work in this fictional account. The Berlin Wall and Gorbachev are among those pieces referenced.
The star of this Cold War tale is a British spy named Lorraine Broughton. Through MI6, she is tasked with recovering a missing list containing the names of spies operating in Berlin. For this mission, she is operating under the guise of a civil lawyer known as Gladys Lloyd.
British, French, and German agencies are all at work here bringing with them key players along the way. Each one of them is more mysterious than the last. Another group, the Ice Men, enter the picture. They are supposedly made up of a group of officers operating as assassins throughout Europe.
The story actually begins at the end and is retold as Lorraine is being debriefed and partially interrogated. As this meeting goes along, the mission plays out and some questions are answered while others are raised. What’s happened to the list? What are the characters motives? These are just some of the questions readers will ask themselves.
Presented in black and white, there isn’t anything spectacular about the visuals. I am curious as to how the book would’ve looked had it been done in color. The style does lend itself well to the genre. Hart’s use of the shadows fits the mystery of the tale. The use of black and white does however work against this book when trying to distinguish between some of the male characters. This occurred for me at several points during the book. Another visual tactic used by Hart is a fading technique. It is utilized later in the book as several events from the story are uncovered.
I came across this title while browsing a comic book news website. As a fan of spy fiction, the use of the word “infiltrate” in the headline caught my attention. Reading this book does not require any knowledge of the Cold War or any of the events of the time.
Johnston and Hart present a Cold War story that will likely pull in fans quite easily. I believe this story is carried more by the writing than the art or a combination of both. The mysteries behind the list as well as the key players will keep readers turning the page. I recommend this book to fans of the genre as well as readers who may have a casual interest in espionage. The Coldest City hits shelves on May 16, 2012.
This product was provided by the staff of Oni Press.