Review - Rapid City Below Zero #1

"It felt like I was dead."

How do you cope with having special abilities? Help people? Hurt people? Use them for monetary gain? Make a life with someone you love? All of the above? In Rapid City Below Zero #1 from Monolith, there's a little bit of everything on display for the characters. The issue is written by Josh Dahl, illustrated by Shawn Langely and colored by Micah Faulkner.

Icicle has seen her fair share of difficulties in life, but that doesn't stop her from realizing her potential and joining up with Piledriver for one final job. It's the job of jobs, promising to set them up for life if it's executed as planned. The thing is, the leader Coil has different plans, costing Piledriver his life and putting Icicle and Claw Hammer in the awkward position of wanting revenge.

Rapid City Below Zero #1 is a pretty familiar tale told with new characters. Dahl's primary protagonist is Icicle, a child of institutionalization who was taught that she was different than others and that her abilities elicited fear in others. If it sounds familiar, it's probably because you're thinking it's like the X-Men, which it is to some extent. The plot plays out like an issue from that series, right down to the characters being named for their superpowers. Dahl sprinkles in some backstory for Icicle to engender more of an investment on the part of the reader, but it feels as if he wanted to get it all out of the way in the first issue to characterize Icicle. There's one instance where Icicle is pitched as scaring all the others in the institution, yet she's seemingly in a ward with others like her, which would seemingly negate the fear since everyone else could handle themselves. Both the character and his over-arching story might have been better off had he not revealed so much about her off the bat.

Langely chose an illustrative style that is largely by the book. Characters feature little in the way of detail to emphasize their movement and there doesn't really feel like there's any kinetic energy in their actions. Emotions are largely delivered via exaggerated facial expressions, all of which suffer somewhat from the lack of color in the book. Sure, black and white is an effective means of illustrating grit and revenge, but in Rapid City Below Zero #1 it negates the need to flesh out a lot of the backgrounds. Panel layouts reflect the familiar grid, save for a few pages that boast some slightly off-kilter designs that really feel to be included simply for the sake of breaking up the standard flow.

Rapid City Below Zero #1 is titled after the abilities of the main character and is clearly poised to follow her as she seeks out Coil to make him pay for his betrayal. After the first issue though, it's somewhat obvious how the rest of the series will play out (especially because of the final line of the book). Dahl's story is pretty simplistic and the characters equally so, leaving very little room for interpretation on the part of the reader. Langely's art is highlighted by triumphant character poses against somewhat spartan backgrounds, preventing the environment itself to be more fully realized. Rapid City Below Zero #1 is a first issue that's a little wobbly in many places and relies on tried and true plot points, characterizations and general direction.

Rapid City Below Zero #1 is available now.