*Whiteout — Recommended

There’s been a murder in Antarctica, and U.S. Marshal Carrie Stetko has to find out what happened, who did it, and why before 90% of the base personnel ship out for the winter. Acclaimed writer Greg Rucka has set up a unique mystery situation with gripping characters while artist Steve Lieber does an amazing job of capturing the personalities, the setting, and especially the weather (a character in itself). The sense of movement in the drifting snow is incredible, so much so that I forgot I was looking at static pictures. A number of outdoor shots are beautifully empty, appropriate for such a desolate waste.

Whiteout cover
(Cover by Frank Miller)
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The black-and-white art perfectly suits the harsh environment and story content. If the series were done in color, it could seem too gory at times. Lieber can draw anything well, but he especially excels in his character work. Additionally, the art style varies based on what the scene requires — dream sequence, deep conversation, or life-threatening action.

Whiteout illustrates the potential of the comics medium. The exoticism and foreboding of this bizarre environment is conveyed in a way that feels utterly real … yet puts no one in danger. I can’t imagine understanding so well the experience of living on the ice, in a setting where you face death daily, through any other medium.

Crime isn’t my favorite comics genre — this isn’t really a mystery, more a how-dunnit — but the sheer quality of the work transcends the story. The art and the character development are incredibly strong. It all seems so real; at the same time, I’m almost overwhelmed by the strangeness of the setting. The weather and culture of Antarctica is one of the last real-world frontiers.

Whiteout: Melt cover
Whiteout: Melt
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The followup, Whiteout: Melt, returns to the icy setting to explore international ramifications. After a brief history of Antarctica, we find out someone has bombed the Russian base and stolen nuclear missiles. Carrie is bribed to investigate; if she captures the evidence (which will score political points against the Russians), she’ll be transferred out.

She finds herself trailing rogue mercenaries across the ice, putting her life in the hands of a Russian captain she doesn’t trust. Her conflict in this book is no longer as personal; the battle is on a bigger scale, with political conspiracies and inter-country grudges. Read today, the Russian/American tension seems a bit outdated, as though their relations were frozen in time.

I couldn’t help thinking of the news that the series has been optioned for a movie while reading Melt. While Whiteout played to the strengths of the comic medium, the second book reads like a film storyboard, with its emphasis on action, sex, characters being reactive instead of proactive, and an open ending.

More information on the book is available at Steve Lieber’s website.

Greg Rucka has written many mystery novels, including Keeper, Finder, Smoker, Shooting at Midnight, Critical Space, and A Fistful of Rain.

He also wrote Wonder Woman: The Hiketeia, Ultimate Daredevil & Elektra, the Queen & Country comic series, and co-wrote Gotham Central with Ed Brubaker.

Steve Lieber has pencilled issues of Detective Comics, Gotham Central, and Hawkman, among others, for DC Comics. His other credits include contributions to Two-Fisted Science, Fallout, and a number of the Paradox Press Big Books. His work can also be found in The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Creating a Graphic Novel.

14 Responses to “*Whiteout — Recommended”

  1. James Schee Says:

    Wow, blast from the past here. I LOVED the first Whiteout trade, it was the first Oni Press title that I read which shower they were more than about swearing and poop jokes.

    My how that initial impression of Oni changed, from when they seemed little more than Kevin Smith’s comic publishing company.

  2. Comics Worth Reading Says:

    […] Queen & Country is published by Oni Press. Greg Rucka previously wrote Whiteout and Wonder Woman: The Hiketeia. […]

  3. Whiteout Returns » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    […] I’m very happy to hear that there’s going to be another Whiteout comic. I just adore Steve Lieber’s art, and Greg Rucka’s writing has never been better […]

  4. A Whole Bunch of LinkBlogging » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    […] liked Whiteout […]

  5. Sara Ryan: Me and Edith Head, Flytrap » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    […] by her husband Steve Lieber (Whiteout), it’s a story about a character from her young adult novel Empress of the World. Katrina […]

  6. News Roundup: Dynamo 5, Aym Geronimo, Maintenance, Maggin, More » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    […] the title optioned by Warner Bros. This is one of a series of Oni Press titles headed to film, with Whiteout being the soonest due. I’m looking forward to […]

  7. GOMA DE MASCAR.net | pôsteres: WHITEOUT e THE SPIRIT pôsteres: WHITEOUT e THE SPIRIT Says:

    […] ambos os casos o Fank Miller tá envolvido: pro primeiro ele fez umas capas da HQ do Greg Rucka e Steve Lieber na qual o filme se […]

  8. The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Creating a Graphic Novel » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    […] the sections on writing and publishing, and Steve Lieber, Eisner Award-winning illustrator of Whiteout, Batman, and Hawkman, who covers the art chapters. (For the chapter on coloring, they turn to the […]

  9. Underground Debuts in September » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    […] written by Jeff Parker (Agents of Atlas, X-Men: First Class) and illustrated by Steve Lieber (Whiteout). Image is publishing it, at $3.50 for 32 color pages. It’s due out September 23 and can be […]

  10. Interview With Steve Lieber (Whiteout) » DVDs Worth Watching Says:

    […] movie adaptation of the graphic novel Whiteout opens tomorrow. Artist Steve Lieber, who illustrated the comic written by Greg Rucka, was kind […]

  11. Whiteout (The Movie) » DVDs Worth Watching Says:

    […] regret seeing it — I had a fun time. But since I’d already read the excellent graphic novel, there was no suspense, no tension in the film for me, which is death for a thriller. I already […]

  12. *Underground — Recommended » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    […] Lieber’s work is at its best when he’s exploring extreme environments, as he did with Whiteout. He’s skilled at capturing what it would feel like to be trapped underground, a situation […]

  13. Opposing Viewpoints on Comic “Piracy”, Starting With Colleen Doran » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    […] because of Greg Rucka’s work, it’s going to be better for him if I buy one of his Whiteout or Queen & Country novels or comics, properties where he actually gets rewards, since he and […]

  14. Roadways Collected Edition Available Only Through Amazon » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    […] was written by Lang, drawn by Slampyak (Jazz Age Chronicles, Little Orphan Annie), inked by Lieber (Whiteout, Underground) and later, John Drury. It’s the story of a physics professor whose assistant […]




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