Pullbox Reviews … And It Snowed- A short story action fantasy in comicbook form

Siblings Sam & Luke are on a job… a big job for the shadowy underworld figure known only as “The Baron”. Using all of the skills at their disposal, they will infiltrate a highly secured facility to secure the prize, an item of such power that the forces of nature bow to its will. But items of power are seldom left unguarded, and in this case Sam & Luke will find themselves pursued by a being as relentless as the turning of the seasons, with their only refuge…

Y’know what, this is a one-shot comic, so there’s only so much I can give away in a preview without ruining the whole thing. Sam owes The Baron for past sins, her brother Luke is determined to back her up no matter what, and the item of power is a snow globe that, once shaken, could bring about the next Ice Age. But not the humorous animated movie from Dreamworks with the crazy sabertooth squirrel.

Nick Bryan has found an interesting niche in his comic book writing. Instead of looking for the next epic, he’s come up with a series of one-shots, all tightly contained short stories that fit between the covers of your average comic and embrace a range of subject matter. In The Little Deaths of Watson Tower with artist Rosie Alexander, a group of friends help one of their own deal with the impending visit of the Grim Reaper. In the sci fi tale Moonframe with art by Lucas Peverill, Bryan dives into questions of advancement by looking at the humanizing of technology… and the flipside of that concept.

… And It Snowed is a fast-paced action story about a brother/sister duo accidentally turning London into a glacial wasteland while trying to stay ahead of a relentless pursuer. As in all short stories, the biggest challenge is in putting enough information into the narrative to give readers something to latch onto. Too much information, and what you wind up with isn’t really much of a short story anymore and becomes bogged down. Too little, and the reader doesn’t have enough to work with or care about in order to get into the story. Over the three comics from Nick Bryan that I’ve seen so far, he’s managed the balancing act pretty well. With … And It Snowed, he gives just enough backstory to form that connection, mostly in single panel flashbacks, for the barest of hints at what led Sam & Luke to their current predicament.

For his part, artist Robert Ahmad does a great job handling the pace of the story. Much like the trick to finding a balance between too much/too little in a short story, Ahmad uses his black & white style to show just enough without crowding the panels. In black & white comics, too much line work in a panel without shades of color to help break up the environment & the characters can result in a total mess. The action in … And It Snowed has a great pace for what amounts to an extended chase scene throughout the issue.

Letterer D.C. Hopkins does his part, keeping the dialogue out of the way of the action, and giving a unique look to some of the… more unique characters. As always, any time I can give a well-earned nod to the letterers of the comic book industry, it’s a great thing. If you’re not sure what it is I’m talking about- cuz it’s just typing, right?- consider yourself blessed. You’ve never seen a really good story in a really good comic go horribly, terribly wrong due to be poor lettering.

I don’t know if there’s a continuing market for this kind of anthology series or not. I kinda hope that there is, though. It’s interesting opening up a comic & getting a much more focused piece, rather than trying to keep up with quick chapters in a drawn out ongoing narrative. No worries about where to jump into an existing series, just pick out the one that looks cool to you and jump in. If Nick Bryan, Robert Ahmad, & friends can keep up this kind of work, I’m more than willing to check them out.

Final Score: 9/13

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