Here’s my report / review of THE COLDEST CITY, a graphic novel, written by Antony Johnston and illustrated by Sam Hart, published in May 2012 by Oni Press.
The perpetrators:Intel etched out on cocktail napkins [words]: Antony Johnston. Visual field scratching [images]: Sam Hart
Disclosure Notice: A sample of the sleek unjacketed hardcover provided by Oni Press [thank you]
The story: Within Berlin, with the Wall about to crumble, KGB factions are at work deciphering all the spies within the city. Deep undercover agents have informed MI6 that an agent was killed over a very important document--a list of every agent working in Berlin. An agent is sent in to pick up the pieces and find the list.
Sitrep: a classy British agent--Lorraine Broughton--is sent into ice cold Berlin in the late 1980s to find out what happened to a missing file an agent reported to have, a list of all the agents in Berlin was possibly heading to the black market. Bad news as
Communism is starting to come undone and agents, double-agents and defectors are all trying to figure out where they fit into the regime change. When the spy war ends, what is a keeper of secrets to do? And does one ever settle down in the quiet life? Not likely.
Interviews: Interspersed with scenes of the actual events are interviews with a surviving agent, trying to piece together just what happened, and what the "f" went wrong. Because as is usual in the spy game, not everything--or everyone--is as it seems.
Visuals: The artistic stylings are "clean and neat" in their retelling of the story. Each panel is inquisitively cool and subtle in depicting expressions as the dialogue is delivered. All of it must be deciphered as if it's being read through an Enigma machine, really bringing the Cold War era to life.
Conclusion: Bravo to the efforts of scribe Antony Johnston (writer of hit comics: Wasteland, Queen & Country: Declassified and Daredevil--not to mention his Wolverine manga book, reviewed on this blog) and his collaborator, Sam Hart (illustrator on Judge Dredd and Excalibur: The Legend of King Arthur) and Oni Press for publishing a cold war spy story, set in stark black & white in an impressive unjacketed hardcover graphic novel format.
I would be interested in reading more adventures about this cunning and crafty cold war spy.