Cbr11bingo And So It Begins
Snowpiercer is a French graphic novel in several volumes. Volume I: The Escape was originally published in 1982. Two later volumes appeared in 1999. The English translations were published in 2014, after the film version with Chris Evans and Tilda Swinton came out. Snowpiercer is a work of dystopian fiction, taking place in a world where cataclysmic climate change has turned the Earth into an uninhabitable frozen wasteland. Snowpiercer is a locomotive 1,001 cars long housing the humans who managed to survive, but mechanical and political challenges are coming to a head on board.
Volume I opens with one of the “tail rats,” that is, an inhabitant of the third class cars at the end of the train, getting caught trying to enter the second class section. Snowpiercer’s political and social order is stratified, with the wealthy and privileged few enjoying the comforts of first class cars, the middle class in second class, and the poor in third. After a failed uprising known as the “wild rush” among the middle and upper classes, but called “the massacre” by third class, military and civil power permanently sealed off third class, but Proloff, the interloper, found a way through. Colonel Krimson and Snowpiercer’s President are very interested in talking to Proloff, as is a middle class reformer/do-gooder named Adeline Belleau. When Adeline sneaks into the compartment where Proloff is held, she becomes a person of interest to the authorities as well.
The journey from the back of the second class cars up to the front of first class takes days and shows the reader how society is organized on Snowpiercer. The prisoners encounter a greenhouse car; the car where “mother,” the meat source for the population, is made; criminals and prostitutes high on the narcotized toilet cleaner called “chronole,”; and a worship service of the Brotherhood of the Engine. Religion on Snowpiercer involves worship of Saint Loco, the engine that operates perpetually. It keeps Snowpiercer running and if it stops, all will die. As the military guards move Adeline and Proloff through the service, a heated argument breaks out among the people. Some are calling for the third class cars and all who live in them to be unhitched from Snowpiercer so as to ensure their own survival. Adeline speaks out on behalf of the third class and is surprised and disappointed when Proloff does not speak up as well.
When Adeline and Proloff finally make it to Snowpiercer’s headquarters, Colonel Krimson and the President are eager to meet with both of them. They have many questions for Proloff about conditions in third class, including how many people are there and how they manage to eat and survive the cold. Adeline is delighted to discover that the military and political authorities are interested in helping the people of the third class and would like to work with her group of reformers. Proloff, however, is wary and says very little. At the end of this volume, all hell breaks loose on Snowpiercer as a mysterious illness begins to spread through the second and first class cars and the truth about Snowpierccer’s engine is revealed.
The artwork in Snowpiercer is black/white/gray, which is fitting for the bleak and cold landscape of the story. Volume I ends with tremendous action and exciting cliffhangers. Throughout the story, readers get bits and pieces of information about what happened to cause the climate disaster and what really happens in the third class cars. Proloff is an interesting character whose past is sketchy. One doesn’t know if he is a hero or someone just looking out for himself in escaping third class. Snowpiercer has a lot to say about class division, political inequality, the military industrial complex and climate disaster. I’m hoping the next volume will fill in more details about the cause of the climate disaster as well as Proloff’s personal history in third class.