Review: 30 Days of Night #3

Darryll Robson Darryll Robson
Expert Contributor
February 6th, 2018

Lifetime reader of comics and fan of Planet of the Apes. When the two combine I can barely contain myself. Image, Boom and Titan comics fight for shelf space with Doctor Who DVDs.

Review: 30 Days of Night #3
Comics
0
Review of: 30 Days of Night
Price:
Atmospheric

Reviewed by:
Rating:
3
On February 6, 2018
Last modified:February 6, 2018

Summary:

Although light on characters, the re-telling of 30 Days Of Night concentrates on building the atmosphere and making sure that the reader feels the fear.

Review of: 30 Days of Night
Price:
Atmospheric

Reviewed by:
Rating:

3
On February 6, 2018
Last modified:February 6, 2018

Summary:

Although light on characters, the re-telling of 30 Days Of Night concentrates on building the atmosphere and making sure that the reader feels the fear.

MORE NEWS FROM THE WEB

It’s been 16 years since the original 30 Days of Night was released and now Steve Niles has returned to Barrow to re-tell that original tale. Issue 3 is out this week from IDW and our contributor, Darryll Robson, takes a trip into the night.

With the ground work laid and some shock changes already in the bag, this issue is the start of the violence that is to come. We all know what’s happening but how can Steve Niles keep the story fresh for readers familiar with the vampire tale?

Credit: IDW Publishing

Synopsis

With Eben dead and missing (his body at least) Stella has a lot on her plate. She has to find out who is terrorizing the little town of Barrow as it descends into 30 long, dark days. The large stranger she has locked up keeps spouting warnings of doom but is he more of a threat than he appears?

Elsewhere, Gus from the power station is having a bad day. In his flee of terror, he sees a friend and dares to hope for help. It is not Gus’ day.

Story continues below

Analysis

There’s nothing new in the plot of this comic. It’s a re-imaging, and the few twists in the issues 1 and 2 have little effect on the overall scheme at this point. The Sheriff out of her depth, the stranger in prison and the oncoming army of vampires are all aspects that will be familiar to the readers unless they are entirely new to this franchise.

This is not a criticism as such; it was to be expected. Anybody picking this up wouldn’t be surprised to find elements they recognize, like watching a movie remake. Unfortunately, in this case, because the story is so familiar it’s easy to skip quickly through the pages and miss some of the delightful story telling that is on show.

Credit: IDW Publishing

Each page works as a mini-story with a beginning, middle, and end. Sometimes the terms are cliff-hangers making that page turn tenser. In fact, the constant increase of tension is an aspect this comic gets right. It starts with a scene of violence which is blocked from the reader by the perpetrator but not diminished in its impact. The coloring plays a massive part of that and is something I will return to in a moment. The narrative then creates a series of confrontations, shocks and, finally, violence that is shown full frontal. The story is continually building, pulling the reader in a little bit deeper with each page turn. Some of the ‘surprise’ moments may lose part of their punch because you know what is coming, but for most of the comic, the pacing doesn’t allow the reader to overthink about what is about to happen because they are reeling from what they have just read.

The two law enforcers, Stella and Roxy, are perfect complimentary characters. Stella is determined and untrusting. She is dealing with her husband’s death by throwing herself into her work and believing the worst of the situation. Roxy is more optimistic and emotionally stable. Niles uses the dynamic contrasts between the characters to create an atmosphere of fear or calm depending on how he wants the reader to feel. This, in turn, makes it possible for him to produce the most significant impact on each narrative beat.

There is a lack of other strong characters in the comic; mostly they are mysterious shadowy figures or lunch. But at this point, there hasn’t been much scope for a large cast. The original serial was only three issues long and was more condensed. Here Steve Niles has allowed himself to take time to introduce the setting and the atmosphere before the characters.

And a vast majority of this atmosphere is created through the use of color. Simple changes in the color palate turn the scene from one of trepidation to one of horror. Brad Simpson uses three distinct color themes throughout this issue. Cold blues for the outside scenes where the darkness is taking over; unnerving green hue colors the interiors scenes; and finally blood red for the violent sequences. On occasion one of the themes encroaches on another as a forewarning or reaction to the action. This is most notable in the opening scene where Gus runs from the advancing vampires and into the arms of Walt. Most of this has the cold outdoor feel but red slowly seeps in from panel to panel until the moment of violence and the entire group is drenched in blood red.

Credit: IDW Publishing

Beneath Simpson’s colors, Piotr Kowalski gives the reader a straight forward rendering of the characters and scenery. The cast is individual and instantly recognizable, whether in close up or by silhouette. The landscape is bleak with very little detail, that is left to the clutter of the interiors. Again the emphasis is on atmosphere and contrast. Kowalski is illustrating the difference between outside and inside, potentially with the intention of flipping this in future issues to show how one or more of the landscapes turns on the characters. This may seem very simple, but that’s the beauty of this approach; the reader knows instantly how they should be feeling at the start of the scene and then the narration twists that at Niles’ whim.

Story continues below

Everything about this issue is about building atmosphere, and it succeeds on every page. Where it falls is the lack of characters but, as stated, this is a more extended game that Niles is playing. He has introduced the main players, and the rest can come later when the threat is in place, like a Stephen King epic. There is more than enough to engage a reader in these pages, whether you are familiar with the franchise or not.

Darryll Robson is a Contributor to ComiConverse. Occasionally he remembers his Twitter account: @DarryllRobson, but he does remember to write more about comics on his website comiccutdown.com

30 Days of Night

  • 3

Atmospheric

Although light on characters, the re-telling of 30 Days Of Night concentrates on building the atmosphere and making sure that the reader feels the fear.

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