Review by Frank Plowright
A great joy of Polar is that Victor Santos, a stunning artist to begin with, keeps expanding his repertoire, taking chances with new tricks. Surely no reader of the previous two volumes expected the opening page provided as the sample art.
Over Came in From the Cold and Eye for an Eye Santos worked in stark black and white with red or orange, colour used more in the second volume than the first, and Frank Miller’s storytelling a strong influence. Here Santos is looking at other sources, but jumbling them all together in the course of a single story leads to a lack of artistic certainty.
If the art can’t settle on a cohesive style, the story doesn’t compensate either. The gist is that the young wife of a mob boss decided she didn’t like the lifestyle and disappeared one day. It’s taken two years to track her down to a convent in a small European village. There’s a $5 million reward to return her back to the USA, the condition being she’s still alive. Black Kaiser is one of a number of people heading for the village of Schlactfeld, the ominous Slaughterfield when translated from German. The number of people is part of the problem. By midway through we’ve been introduced to so many to no good purpose. Santos ensures they’re visually distinct, but most are personality free zones, or cannon fodder as they’re known to the trade.
Once the assorted people have been introduced the title story develops into an endless gunfight, in what resembles a Hong Kong action movie. While there have been reservations about earlier books, No Mercy For Sister Maria really is style over content, and suggests Santos might have a better series if he collaborated with a writer. On the other hand, with Polar a Netflix TV movie with a sequel in development, it’s probably no great concern to him. The ending to the Schlachtfeld sequence isn’t very credible either, as you’d imagine the people present would hear what’s coming and act accordingly.
Polar continues with The Kaiser Falls, and let’s hope it’s an improvement.