Though Amazon have made using Comixology a truly painful experience (seriously, it’s awful – and despite a few minor improvements, it’s still horrible a few months after I wrote my opinion piece, Comixology No More), I’m still using it here and there – mostly to catch up on my backlog. Seriously, how does the number one retailer in the world mess up the actual storefront section of an app so badly?

They have, however, made it easier to find the comics that are free to read as a Prime member, which is especially useful as it means circumventing the horrible checkout process that’s now within Comixology that’ll only let you buy one comic at a time.

Which is how I came to read Jeff Lemire and Jock’s Snow Angels, a Comixology Original that’s available to read via Prime.

Set in a frozen dystopian society that lives within an endless trench, Snow Angels follows young siblings Milliken and Mae, along with their father, as they go on a ritual to learn about surviving The Trench on Milliken’s 12th birthday. To survive there, you must abide by the Three Testaments of The Trench:

1. YOU MUST NEVER LEAVE THE TRENCH.

2. THE TRENCH PROVIDES.

3. THE TRENCH IS ENDLESS.

Break a rule and you’re liable to face danger, madness, death – or The Snowman, a mythical, ruthless and deadly figure who protects The Trench. With Milliken’s rite-of-passage taking the trio beyond anywhere the girls have previously experienced, it seems that it won’t be long before they come face to face with the danger they’ve been warned of for their entire lives, leading them into a deadly, terrifying fight for survival.

This issue does a superb job of laying the groundwork and establishing the unique, snow-white bleakness of The Trench and its rules, as well as giving us a great introduction to our protagonists. Lemire writes with a light touch, letting the characters fill in the details through the teachings of the father of the siblings – the exposition never feels clunky or unnatural. Jock’s art is, as always, superb; the bleak minimalism of the setting allows a great focus on the detailed and distinctive characters and the odd glimpse of wildlife that we see.

The first issue culminates in a tense, violent exchange that’s very well handled and has the reader chomping at the bit for the next chapter. With the intriguing status quo established – albeit with plenty of questions still to be answered – this is a gripping opening chapter of a series that I’ll definitely be reading a lot more of.

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