By Christopher Sebela & Hayden Sherman
Cold War continues its erratic, animated story of people awoken from a cryogenic stasis (cryonauts) and thrust into a war they never knew about nor wanted to be a part of, at least for some. The party struggles to escape the mechanical adversaries throughout the issue, during which, Christopher Sebela and Hayden Sherman give insight into the backstory of the strong, elderly woman who has come to the forefront of this comic. A dangerous woman named Vinh.
Sebela continues to craft a strong narrative in this issue by once again having the present events be told predominantly from the perspective of one of the cryonauts and learning about their past. Honestly, if this was the framing device he uses going forward, making it a convention of the book, it would keep elevating the material. What’s really making this comic not become just another spin on a post-apocalyptic future infested with machines is the characters. This storytelling device is a double-edged sword because all the development or exposition that is focused on one character is at the expense of the rest. This story is about a group and, unfortunately, many of the members have not been fleshed out enough for readers to recognize them, let alone identify or care for them.
Perhaps the biggest problems with the comic come from the artwork. Sherman’s rough, angular style continues to serve the content by conveying the disorienting nature of what’s unfolding, but there are still many moments that are depicted poorly, where one can’t properly follow the flow of events. This is sequential art, so if the audience can’t follow, even with full concentration and thought, then there is an issue. Whether it’s due to a disconnect between writer and artist; Hayden Sherman is trying to say something with his unorthodox visual storytelling techniques; or he just the issues present in the pages, there will probably never be answer to what is the root of these complications in the comic.
Now, the color work makes the content really stand out on each page. It’s a very restrictive palette that conveys the grit, resourceless, dead state that the Earth is in. The use of green for the flashbacks works well to represent the technology the cryonauts are using and also for distinguishing those panels from the present. When looking at a page, they’re a nice contrast. Almost as if to say the past was more vivid and alive than the time and people they are now.
Again, it seems it’s the writing that is the saving grace of Cold War. The art is unique and seems to serve a particular purpose within the context of the structure, but the unrefined style seems sloppy at times when simple scenes or characters can’t be made clear to the audience. It breaks the reader’s connection to the comic and having to re-engage constantly is never how a comic book should be read. Luckily, there is enough positive elements that this series is worth checking out and some may like Sherman’s work, but there continues to be a lot of retooling that needs to be done for this title to rise to its full potential.