Snowpiercer The Prequel Part 1: Extinction Lauren Bowes (letters), Jean-Marc Rochette (writer and artist), Matz Rochette (writer), José Villarrubia (colours) Titan Comics 25 September, 2019 Humanity is tearing itself apart and taking the rest of the planet with it. Climate change is out of control; the rich are practically eating the poor. There is devastation
Snowpiercer The Prequel Part 1: Extinction
Lauren Bowes (letters), Jean-Marc Rochette (writer and artist), Matz Rochette (writer), José Villarrubia (colours)
25 September, 2019
Humanity is tearing itself apart and taking the rest of the planet with it. Climate change is out of control; the rich are practically eating the poor. There is devastation everywhere, and it’s going to get worse. It’s even been foretold by the ancient Mayans. But there is one man who can make a difference: Zheng, a wealthy entrepreneur who is using his wealth to build an everlasting train. This train will house a few thousand people—the rest will have to perish. Who is worthy in Snowpiercer: Extinction?
Bong Joon-Ho’s 2014 sleeper hit Snowpiercer left many wondering about how the world of the film had became so desolate and fractured. Snowpiercer: Extinction is a prequel series to the original French graphic novel on which the film was based. Though it answers some of the questions from the film and original novel, it doesn’t go in the direction I expected. This prequel makes no mention of the original novel’s Proloff, Belleau, and Krimson, or Wilford or Gilliam, which is surprising. According to Snowpiercer, Wilford was the maker of the train (Alec Forrester in the original graphic novel), and was even vilified for his idea.
But since none of the original characters are mentioned, it makes me wonder whether Zheng’s train was appropriated by others. That would be an interesting political statement, but it isn’t a concept that is engaged in at all in Snowpiercer: Extinction. There’s so much casual appropriation of the work of people of colour happening in the world—I hoped that Extinction would be more obviously political.
Zheng’s train is also much more equal than the one in the novel and film. When Zheng gives a tour of the train, it looks more like the Orient Express than the class-divided nightmare of the original book. If Zheng’s train was appropriated, it is safe to say that the class divide was created by the appropriators as well. I sincerely hope this will be explained in the next volume of the book, because I have been left with so many questions.
I was interested in the activist group Wrath, who spend the majority of the book trying to spread awareness about climate change and oppression. Unfortunately, they go about it the wrong way—by killing people who are harming the environment. As one would expect, their extremism does more harm than good—which is true to life, unfortunately. But how was this group organised and how do they work across the world? None of that is explained.
Most of our information about Wrath comes from Valentina, a femme fatale who is dead-set against Zheng’s train. Valentina is the only female character in Snowpiercer: Extinction, which is incredibly frustrating. Especially because, by dint of being a femme fatale, she ends up having to use her ‘feminine wiles’ to distract or destroy her quarry. Snowpiercer the film may not have had an overabundance of female characters, but Mason, Yona, and Tanya were well-written and acted characters who gave the film a depth that would have been missing without them.
Snowpiercer: Extinction does nothing for Valentina—she is treated as eye candy, for the most part, and is the only character who spends a significant portion of the story barely clothed. There’s even a shot of her bound and gagged naked body at one point which made me want to throw the book across the room (I couldn’t, because I was reading it on my laptop).
The story of Snowpiercer: Extinction left much to be desired—it often felt backward in its depiction of female characters and in the class divide. However, I did like how the book tackled climate change and the massive impact on vulnerable island countries. The art did nothing to captivate me, either. It was too dark and relied on shadows to give the story its gritty edge. I understand that this is a nod to the original story—which is washed out considering the desolation of the world—but it doesn’t translate well for a prequel.
I was excited for Snowpiercer: Extinction but I didn’t enjoy it. I can forgive the book not having any direct connections to the original graphic novel or film but as a standalone story, it doesn’t answer a number of its own questions. Plus, having just one female character in a 2019 graphic novel is so backward and frustrating. I can’t see myself reading any more of this series—if you need me, I’ll be rewatching the film.