Rapid City: Below Zero - Review
A few weeks ago, fellow Lady Tiny Doom and I took part in a very fun event hosted by our comrades in comics at Bad Kids Press. Called "Comics and Cocktails," the concept was pretty simple and brilliant - they teamed up with a local restaurant/bar, Orleans, which would make drinks related to Bad Kids Press titles (said libations designed by yours truly) and provide space for the creators to set up tables and sell their work. In exchange, Bad Kids Press bought some tasty appetizers for their fans and brought in some additional patronage for Orleans on a Thursday night.
It was a grand time, and one of the things I liked about it was that it gave me a chance to explore some of the BKP titles I wasn't as familiar with in a relaxed setting, far less hectic than Comicon or even the store events. One of those titles was Rapid City:Below Zero by Josh Dahl and drawn by Shawn Langley - I knew it was a super-hero story, but that was about it. After chatting with Josh at Comics & Cocktails, I decided to give it a read. Issues 1-3 are out so far. Here are my thoughts:
For starters, I learned quickly that this wasn't quite a super-HERO story - instead, it's a tale from the perspective of a super-powered villain, Icicle. As her name suggests, Icicle has cold powers - she can manipulate temperature, generate ice, and seems to be impervious to the cold. We meet her on the worst day of her life - the day of a heist gone wrong. The ringleader of the gang pulling the job, Coil, betrayed the entire crew, blowing up everyone in it - including Icicle's boyfriend, Pile Driver. Icicle and one other thief, Claw Hammer, manage to survive the blast - and Icicle goes about making her entire purpose in life to exact revenge on Coil.
Coil, meanwhile, uses the loot from the heist to buy his way up the criminal underground ladder - but his end game hasn't been revealed just yet.
Icicle is a complex character - Dahl tells her story non-linearly, with flashbacks to her past and how she ended up as a super-powered criminal. The reader is given the sense that her powers are a reflection of her upbringing and history, that everyone and everything in her life has been cold, unfeeling, except for Pile Driver. The crimes she commits are an attempt to make enough money to get away from it all, but once Pile Driver is taken from her, she's set on a path of real darkness. Will she become a remorseless killing machine?
Well, if you really want to find out, you might want to help the fourth book come out! The guys are running a Kickstarter to finish the arc, and it ends in just 3 days. So if this sounds like it's up your alley, consider making a pledge. You'd be promoting both a local comic and a female-led one, something the Ladies of Comicazi are always proud to support!
Recommended age: This is definitely not an all-ages book. There's violence against humans, dogs, and lizard-men, and while none of it is too graphic, I would steer clear for anyone under late teens.
You might like it if: You're a fan of Astro City. While Dahl's characters are a bit dirtier and more rough and tumble than the denizens of Astro City (and less directly tied into a comprehensive knowledge of comic book history), they are in the same vein of original super-powered characters being used to tell stories that reflect our regular, un-powered human condition. Dahl works with system-involved youth, and he drew on those experiences to explore the choices and lack of them that draw young people into crime.
Bonus features: Dahl has an already completed story arc from Rapid City called Objects at Rest, and by backing the Kickstarter you can purchase a copy of that too!