Snowpiercer 2: The Explorers
By Benjamin Legrand (scripts) and Jean-Marc Rochette (art)
Translated from French to English by Virginie Selavy
Titan Comics, Trade Hardcover, 140 pages, $24.99 US
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The curse of a sequel to a classic work by a subsequent creator is that it gets held to nearly impossible standards: Hew too close to the original, and you’re mocked for a lack of imagination; veer too sharply away, and you’re pilloried by fans for not being the same as the original.
In the case of the two graphic novels collected here, Snowpiercer 2: The Explorers and Snowpiercer 3: The Crossing, author Benjamin Legrand had the tough task of following up the original Snowpiercer after the death of its writer, Jacques Lob. Fortunately, Legrand was able to continue working with original artist Jean-Marc Rochette, and the result is a pleasing continuity of style that allows the entire story to be viewed as a single epic.
Legrand makes the bold move of not continuing directly from the cliffhanger ending of Lob’s Snowpiercer 1: The Escape, instead moving the action to a second globe-circling train travelling endlessly through a devastated frozen wasteland after a man-made ecological collapse on Earth. This second train is always at risk of colliding with the original, lost Snowpiercer, which is travelling on the very same tracks.
The society on the Snowpiercer 2 seems to be not quite as rigidly stratified as that on the original train, but is enthralled to a three-headed government comprised of the head of the Church, a military leader, and a secular politician. Although there’s a huge element of risk due to the incredibly frigid temperatures outside, the Snowpiercer 2 is being stopped for brief periods in ruined and abandoned cities, allowing teams of Explorers off to loot museums for cultural artifacts that wind up in the hands of the elite.
What the Explorer named Puig discovers about the actual fate of Proloff and the original Snowpiercer, and how it changes everything for the inhabitants of the second train, is the focus of Snowpiercer 2: The Explorers.
Finally, after the discovery of faint musical broadcasts from the other side of the frozen Pacific ocean, the entire saga shudders to an inexorable but emotionally satisfying ending in Snowpiercer 3: The Crossing, the second of the graphic novels collected in this edition.
As with the previous volume, this collection is a beautiful hardcover album that showcases Jean-Marc Rochette’s artwork to best advantage. Benjamin Legrand’s clean prose and dialogue reflects his career as a thriller novelist, and leans more towards action, political intrigue and unexpected plot twists than did Jacques Lob’s original Snowpiercer 1, which was heavier on social commentary.
Snowpiercer 2: The Explorers manages to escape the curse of most sequels and winds up the tale of the two Snowpiercer trains in a satisfyingly action-packed and yet somber apocalyptic manner. Between the two, Snowpiercer 1: The Escape aims more for the head, whereas this concluding volume is aimed square for the heart and gut. Snowpiercer 2: The Explorers is a worthy sequel to the classic original and a fitting end to the saga of these last, damned survivors of humanity.