Snowpiercer Vol: 2 The Explorers Review - A Bleak Ride Until The End...
Updated: Jan 19
• Titan Comics (Publisher)
Snowpiercer is a fascinating IP in that the concept is really simple but the creators have rung a lot of substance from the basic premise. It's not surprising upon reading that the graphic novel was adapted to screen. What is surprising is how wildly different the adaptations are from one another.
Snowpiercer Vol: 2 is broken up into two distinct halves. The first half focuses on The Explorers, a group of people conditioned to handle the extreme cold of the dead world for short periods of time.
This train is not The Snowpiercer. Snowpiercer 2 AKA the Icebreaker was launched at the onset of the apocalypse. At some point, The Icebreaker loses contact with the Snowpiercer and the assumption is that the train has crashed. This information is then passed on to the general population. This information has a predictable effect and now the passengers of the Icebreaker live in fear that they will eventually crash into the Snowpiercer causing derailment and the end of the human race...
During scheduled braking tests, the Explorers leave the train and salvage artifacts for the wealthy elites. Meanwhile, the fear of crashing is used to control the rest of the passengers. The reality is a bit more complicated and ultimately neither side has a complete picture of what is going on.
The second half of the graphic novel covers a mysterious signal being picked up across the sea. In an attempt to establish possible contact with survivors the leaders of the Icebreaker make the risky decision to leave the safety of the tracks to investigate the signal.
I'm purposely skipping the nuts and bolts of the plot. A lot of elements are introduced that lead to greater reveals and consequences as the story moves forward. Various groups and factions vie for power and sudden death is always around the corner, be it freezing to death or the machinations of the train inhabitants.
There is also some cool social commentary about the use of information to shape the narrative of events in real-time. Considering how 2020 has played out Snowpiercer Vol: 2 hits the nail on the head. This is an extremely bleak setting so It's easy to understand why maintaining control, hierarchy and routine is so essential to humanity's survival in this setting.
Imagine the last 2000 people on earth on a plane with low fuel and then you can guess how bad this situation is. That's literally the condition of the Icebreaker. For the passengers, it's not a matter of if the crash will happen it's a matter of when.
The art direction is very claustrophobic in its presentation. Most of the panels are tight and confined to a few or more people in any given panel. This holds true even when the opportunity is there to show exterior shots of the train. This consistency in the art direction along with the implications of the story leads to the conclusion that humanity is literally in a no-win scenario here.
Either the end of the world inevitable or there is more to the story than what's being let on. Part of the reason the storytelling works so well is that the story never gives you all of the facts, just enough to keep your imagination filling in possible blanks.
This is the third Snowpierce Graphic novel I've read and reviewed and I have two more to go through. It's a thoroughly horrible setting but it raises some interesting questions about the nature of humanity that I find intriguing every time I spend time in this world. Snowpiercer Vol 2: The Explorers is like an episode of the outer limits. It sticks with you long after you put it down.