Whiteout (with its sequel Melt)

written by Greg Rucka
art by Steve Lieber
Published by Oni Press 2017

Buy it HERE.

This was a very satisfying read. Solid story telling, with a compelling character. Federal Agent Carrie Setko was found guilty of using excessive force interrogating a murder suspect. As a way to keep her on the force, but punished she is sent to a science station in Antartica to act as the police presence there. The comic begins with a dead body that can't be identified right away; it's frozen solid and the face has been caved in by some blunt weapon.

A man's world...

Throughout the investigation she of course gets buffeted by the rough and brusque men who see her as an oddity, frustrated by their isolation and lack of female companionship. Carrie comes through in the end, relying on her persistence and keen observation skills. There's quite a number of action/fighting scenes that happen, most of them rendered sufficiently well. They get better in the sequel...

... in Melt, tacked on the end, Agent Setko gets a chance of returning to the US continent if she helps capture some Russian soldiers suspected of building a military establishment -which is against a treaty signed by 298 countries to keep Antartica strictly a peaceful area of science study and nothing more. The story blows up in Carrie's face as she sees there's a lot more going on than just a clandestine military build-up.


... a woman with a job to do.

It's safe to say that the female protagonist is here to stay. Especially in comics. In the case of Whiteout/Melt, you can say that the world of Antartica is predominantly male, to introduce a female hero reinforces the idea of isolation and separateness. Carrie does have a fellow woman agent -Rita- who helps her in her investigations true. That doesn't blunt the omnipresent feeling of being singled out. Plus you have the endless white featureless landscape of Antartica to really make you feel her loneliness.

Steve Lieber's artwork is to be commended in its attempts to extend beyond the limitations of black and white. There's a few scenes like flashbacks and hallucinations that probably would've worked more easily had he used color. Lieber went with a scratchy technique that once I understood what's going on served its purpose.

Whiteout felt very strongly in the vein of a classic 1968 movie I remember as a kid: Ice Station Zebra. Greg Rucka's comic here is perhaps an upgraded tale set in the same genre, but without all the male testosterone.

Next Tuesday:

The Bestiary
a field guide to werewolves and such by Mike Connell

Tim Larsen

12 Woodwardia Ave

Felton CA 95018