So often fantasy stories are set in a time and place that aren’t on Earth. It makes sense—that way you can have monsters and amazing locations to play with, but what if there was a place on this very Earth that was just as fantastical we didn’t even know about? Throne of Ice, a French comic recently collected by Humanoids Inc. and translated into English has just such a plot.
Throne of Ice (Humanoids Inc.)
So what makes this story a fantasy, yet set on earth? It’s set in a mythical Antarctica, some 12,000 years ago. Hmm, interesting, so underneath all that ice are the bones of humans who fought each other as we have done the last 2,000 years. While there are no monsters per se, there are creatures long since extinct, and the fantasy of the story really lies in the idea of a long lost culture just now being revealed in this book. Like Atlantis, this title holds secrets of a past that could have been…until it was lost forever.
You’re telling me THAT is under the ice?
Written by Alain Paris, this tale feels at times more suited to prose than comic book. Characters jump ahead in time quickly for instance, which would suit a prose story that allows the reader to imagine it themselves and fill in the gaps, but in a comic the reader sees it. This makes the story feel jumpy at times. The epic nature of the battles however, Paris nails, with some truly huge sequences to read through.
Being a French comic first there’s plenty of nudity within and it suits the setting and story. One wonders when there is nudity in a comic like this if it could ever be directly adapted into film. Probably not, at least not in America.
One of the more interesting elements of this series is how it blends cultural elements we know of, like Celtic or Māori people of New Zealand, with fantasy elements. Who’s to say if giant insects did or did not live 12,000 years ago, but damn if it isn’t cool to see. The book captures the feeling of wonderful fantasy books like Tintin by making the boring place we call Earth rife with mysteries. There are of course elements in this book that push the boundaries of what could be, but it never goes completely off the rails into unbelievability so quickly you’ll scoff. Instead you’ll be drawn in and let your suspension of disbelief roll with it.
It’s easier for example to accept a zombie when it’s infused with clearly very well researched clothes and tribal settlements. Credit goes to artists Val, Notaro and Saverio Tenuta who use incredible detail to capture the detail of the times. The detail helps make the story feel a bit more valid too, and the story takes a historic way of laying out the panels. The layouts never go too far out of bounds of a standard structure which helps ground the story. There are no full page splash pages for instance. This also serves the prose style of the scripting which makes the read feel a bit distant, as if reading a history. Panels never get too close, with most panels at medium distance so we may take in an entire scene.
There be zombies!
Is It Good?
Like the lost city of Atlantis, you’ll enjoy the fantastical elements and the promise of an ancient society that could have been.