This review contains minor spoilers.
DC’s Rebirth event is heading towards its second year, and one of the most exciting prospects is Steve Orlando’s Justice League of America. In the buildup to this hotly-anticipated comic, the company has been releasing a stream of Rebirth one-shots, featuring different members of Orlando’s unusual team. This time round, it’s Killer Frost’s turn!
The issue spins out of the Justice League vs. Suicide Squad event, which sees Killer Frost save the Justice League – and the world – from Max Lord. In doing so, she earns the Justice League’s admiration, and Batman vouches for her to join his newest iteration of the League. But it’s not going to be an easy journey for Killer Frost; Amanda Waller doesn’t take kindly to losing one of her pawns, and Waller launches a ruthless game to break Caitlin Snow down.
Of course, the background to this issue is really The Flash, the popular CW show that features Danielle Panabaker as Caitlin Snow. Three seasons in, The Flash has finally embraced the ‘Killer Frost’ concept, and in so doing they’ve given this character a level of exposure she’s never had before. Orlando’s challenge is to take the comic book version, and bring her to a place where he can make her increasingly mainstream.
This is done through a straightforward redemption plot, but it’s given a nice degree of nuance through use of Killer Frost’s powers. You see, Killer Frost needs to consume the life-energy – the body-heat – of others in order to live. Killing is literally in her nature, and that’s part of what makes her so desperately dangerous; she kills to survive.
Waller knows this, and – in her usual vindictive way – places temptation after temptation in the way of a starving Caitlin Snow. Orlando takes advantage of this opportunity to present the basics of the character’s comic-book origin, as well as to dive deep into her mind; he demonstrates Caitlin Snow’s own intelligence, having her see through Waller’s tricks and refuse to break.
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Like all the one-shots, this issue is setup. It establishes Caitlin Snow as a conflicted character, one who’s determined to fight against her own nature. The end-sequence is haunting, reminding us that she still needs to eat; but it’s clear that her hunger is under control, at least for now. But this isn’t going to be a simple victory; as Amanda Waller rightly observes, there are six billion ways to fail, and only one way to succeed. It’s not enough for Caitlin Snow to have control of the hunger right now; she has to keep control, to retain it for every day of her life. This issue signposts that we can expect to see Killer Frost’s hunger as something akin to an addiction, one that will always threaten to rear its ugly head and take control.
The artistic team are on top form here, with Mirka Andolfo (artist) and Arif Prianto (colorist) working together to produce a beautiful book. It’s a character piece, of course, so their focus is on Killer Frost herself; there are occasional panels where the cold takes control, and you get some beautifully artistic patterns of color swirling around her.
Andolfo handles countless head-shots with skill, always staying on-model, and expressing so much emotion. I particularly love the panels where she focuses in on Waller, where she manages to express so much fury and anger. Waller is not someone who handles losing well. Oddly, though, the stand-out image is a single side-on panel where a smile curls across Killer Frost’s mouth, as clouds of frigid air stream around her. The image is creatively done, and so on-point.
DC’s Rebirth has proven to be a thrilling era, and this one-shot carries real promise. The character of Killer Frost is wonderfully complex, and clearly provides Steve Orlando with an opportunity to explore some seriously intriguing themes and concepts. Personally, I consider this issue to be a must-read.
A superb, character-focused one-shot, this Rebirth title gives us a strong sense of just where Killer Frost's character will go from here. It's full of promise, and the artwork is so very on-point.