Book Review: Snowpiercer, Vol. 2: The Explorers (1999/2000)

SnowPiercer_2Snowpiercer Vol. 2: The Explorers [Le Transperceneige: L’arpenteur] (1999)
Snowpiercer Vol. 3: The Crossing [Le Transperceneige: La traversée] (2000)
First published in English by Titan Comics, 2014 (in a single volume)

Written by Benjamin Legrand

Art by Jean-Marc Rochette

Expectations: Moderate.


The end of the first Snowpiercer volume is quite definitive. There’s seemingly little room for a sequel, and even less need for one. But this ending — like a lot of the book — does leave quite a few unanswered questions, so I went into Vol. 2 hoping for some better understanding of these threads. I can’t say that Vol. 2 really does that, though, as it actually just introduces its own share of unanswered questions.

The grand point, I suppose, is that these little mysteries of life are rarely explained and never will be. It is a part of life to wonder and to continue on with what knowledge we have. It is also a natural part of humanity to question and challenge authority, so the story is always informed by the central question: Would you prefer pleasant, placating lies meant to control and influence you, or the hard, honest truth? Like similarly themed stories (Dark City, The Matrix, countless Woody Allen films), it all comes down to whether an individual is happier believing in fantasy or knowing reality.

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Book Review: Snowpiercer, Vol. 1: The Escape (1984)

SnowPiercer_1Snowpiercer Vol. 1: The Escape [Le Transperceneige: L’échappe] (1984)
First published in serial form in À Suivre, 1982
First published in English by Titan Comics, 2014

Written by Jacques Lob

Art by Jean-Marc Rochette

Expectations: High.


Snowpiercer is a graphic novel that is just coming to prominence in the West. It has recently been translated and published in English for the first time by Titan Comics, in anticipation of Bong Joon-ho’s 2013 film version that will hit the States at some point in 2014. The film is Bong’s English-language debut, as approximately 80% of the film was shot in English, with notable American stars — Chris Evans, Tilda Swinton, Ed Harris, etc. — filling out many of the roles. So with that in mind I dove head-first into the unique and desolate vision of the future that Snowpiercer provides.

The title refers to the unique setting of the comic, a 1001-car train which never stops. At some indiscriminate point in the book’s past, there was a cataclysm that caused the Earth’s climate to be completely and irrecoverably damaged, sending our world into a neverending, harsh winter too cold for humans to survive. What remains of human civilization is aboard the Snowpiercer, but even in these dire times social classes and economic inequality segment the population. Those in the tail cars are cramped together and left without food to eat or even windows to provide light; they are prisoners of a rolling ghetto (to use one of the book’s terms). Meanwhile, those in the cars closer to the engine live in luxury.

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