cover image British Ice

British Ice

Owen D. Pomery. Top Shelf, $14.99 trade paper (128p) ISBN 978-1-60309-460-3

An evocative “arctic noir,” this graphic novel unfurls a study in desolation, mounting tensions, and chilling atmosphere. British national Harrison Fleet is assigned four years as commissioner in 1984 to Nethertown, a territory claimed by Britain in the late 1800s and “the gateway to the arctic and all her bounties,” where he must solve the disappearance of the previous official. Upon arrival, Fleet is met with distrust from the natives, as the specter of the former British Empire’s stranglehold on the remote area lingers and the indigenous people bear no love for the crown or its representative, as expressed by open hostility and a succession of animal corpses left at his doorstep. While investigating, Fleet receives information from a handful of allies, and as the local hunters slowly close in with lethal intent, he unravels why his government has interest in so remote a location, as well as its gruesome, horrifying Heart of Darkness–style history. Pomery’s narrative is as sparse as the landscape it depicts, with a static, fine-lined visual style reminiscent of a children’s book and nautical etchings, which conveys the frigid environment in a blue-gray monotone. Though fictional, the piece addresses the legacy of British colonialism with simple, straightforward aplomb. [em](Jan.) [/em]