Snowpiercer 1: The Escape graphic novel review

Does legendary bande dessinee Snowpiercer live up to the hype?

Francophone comics continue their belated Anglophonic invasion, not quite in the wake of Bong Joon-ho’s all-star Snowpiercer adaptation, which got jumped by the Weinsteins on its way to the multiplex, but awkwardly prior.

Luckily hype plays to Snowpiercer 1: The Escape’s advantage – nothing gets cinema fans and comic lovers riled up like something they’re told they can’t see or read.

Originally released in 1982 as Le Transperceneige, this is amazingly the book’s English-language debut and while time hasn’t entirely diluted its power, it’s a comparatively less sophisticated beast than many readers will be expecting.

Set on a train which zips around an ice-bound post-apocalypse, social and economic injustice is transposed onto this diesel-powered microcosm where the further back from the engine you get, the worse off society is.

The elites enjoy their pick of the dwindling resources and rut away their cares, while the poor shiver in cattle wagons, but the train is slowing down and there’s a plot afoot to decouple the disadvantaged entirely so that the wealthy can speed up and survive.

Proloff, a grubby prole from the back, breaks into the front carriages and teams up Adeline, a naive middle-class advocate for cattle-class rights, and then in typically bleak bande dessinée style, they get treated like crap, have a few bawdy encounters and then sort of fall backwards into doing anything heroic.

Snowpiercer’s strength is clearly in its big ideas and their stark depiction, but while it was written in an brow-beating age of Akira and V For Vendetta, it sees release post-Tank Girl and Transmetropolitan’s brash Nineties irreverence.

We’ve long since stopped being numbed by our inevitably shitty future, and started laughing at it.