Frantic as a cardiograph scratching out the lines, Day 90: Whiteout #1
Every day this year, I will be examining the first pages of random comics. Today’s page is from Whiteout #1, which was published by Oni Press and is cover dated July 1998. Enjoy!
Whiteout is Greg Rucka’s first comic book (as far as I can discover), and damn, it’s good. He and Steve Lieber really phone it in on this first page, don’t they? Sheesh. It’s like they slept through it and decided to start the comic on page 2, amirite?
Ah, I kid because I love. Rucka sets the scene and even gives us a nice little link to the plane in the final panel, and considering the issue is occasionally text-heavy, we can forgive this first page. Rucka doesn’t want to get in Lieber’s way as he establishes the isolation of Antarctica, after all. Look at how much Lieber does on a page that is essentially four repeated panels. The background remains completely static, which helps show the loneliness and harshness of the landscape. The flag, however, shows the wind, and Lieber cleverly whips it around in the final panel as the plane pulls it along in its wake. The plane appears in the third panel, right next to the flag, which is where our eye is resting because it’s the only thing in the foreground. So although the plane is small, we see it instantly. The fourth panel shows the plane tilted upward, tying into Rucka’s statement about how there’s no place to go but up, but also because it’s landing on the ice. The skis attached to the wheels simply remind us that this place is not suitable for human habitation.
It’s a page all about setting a mood, and Lieber (with some help from Rucka) sets it very well. I imagine that this is an effective first page (it worked on me!) because we don’t know what’s going to happen (the cover shows a corpse, so maybe we can guess) but we know it’s going to happen in a place that will be as much a part of the book as the actual events. Rucka always makes sure to set his stories in fairly specific places and he incorporates that landscape into the book as much as he can, and this is the first example of it. It’s a cool page, even if it looks like not much is happening.
Next: A good team, and good high concept, but a disappointing comic. But is the first page any good? That’s all we need to discover! Look for more in the archives!