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Snowpiercer vol.1: The Escape

February 12, 2021

Snowpiercer takes the end of the world and puts it on a train. It’s a hell of an elevator pitch, akin to the famous “Die Hard on a bus” line that got people to line up to see Speed in 1994.

Originally published in that not-inconsequential year of 1984, the French series Le Transperceneige by Jacques Lob and Jean-Marc Rochette has since been adapted into a well-regarded film by Parasite director Bong Joon-ho and a TV series starring Jennifer Connelly and Daveed Diggs.

Everything you need to know about the story is in the opening line: “Across the white immensity of an eternal winter, from one end of the frozen planet to the other, there travels a train that never stops.” It’s the kind of opening that not only hooks the reader, it impales them. This is a ride you’ll want to take. Right up front, we’re presented with the facts of the train: it is 1,001 carriages long, and those carriages represent a strict social hierarchy, and there are armed guards everywhere.

Lob and Rochette quickly put us on the train, giving a sense not just of its enormity, but of the close quarters as well. Each scene is either in a corridor or a cabin with characters pushed up against one another for comfort, to threaten, or merely out of necessity. It's a horrifying scenario, one whose relevance has grown in proportion to the growing class divide around the world.

Comic book panel of man expressing horror avatar


Jeremy Estes has worked for Nashville Public Library since 2008. He loves comic books and dislikes the term “graphic novels”. He hosts Panel Discussion, a comics book club for adults, on the first Wednesday of the month at 12pm at the Main Library.