30 Days of Night: Beyond Barrow Trade Paperback Review

Written by James "Spez" Ferguson

Published by IDW Publishing

Originally published as 30 Days of Night: Beyond Barrow #1-3

Written by Steve Niles

Art by Bill Sienkiewicz

2008, 104 pages

Trade paperback released on February 15th, 2008


After the release of the film of the same name, IDW Publishing pumped out a few more mini-series set in the world of 30 Days of Night. Written by series co-creator Steve Niles, Beyond Barrow was a three issue mini-series that took a look at the town of Barrow after two full-fledged vampire attacks. A stereotypical group of "vacationers" led by a billionaire with a death wish heads up to the Top of the World to do some sight seeing of the blood-sucking variety. Instead they encounter an ancient evil that has lived up in the Arctic Circle for hundreds of years. Oh, and there's a lot of blood.

The story here is short and the whole thing feels rushed. The entire mini-series can be flipped through in about 20 minutes tops. It could have definitely used an extra issue as an epilogue to wrap up the climax of the book. Instead there's a big fight. Shit goes down. And the survivors just walk away and we're left with a voiceover. If they provided a bit more explanation as to what exactly this group of people were up against aside from the handful of hastily written subtext at the end, then I would have enjoyed it more.

Nothing could have made me enjoy the artwork, though. This was the first book I've read that was drawn by Bill Sienkiewicz and I can assure you that it will be the last. To say his art is horrible would not be correct. I'm sure that if he were to do a painting or some other static piece of art that it would look good and people would comment on it and be interested in it. This is not the case in comics though. This is a storytelling medium where the art is supposed to help move the arc along. Yes, there's a writer that scripts everything but the art shows what's happening and oftentimes the writer relies on the artist to show the reader things without having to explain them with tons of exposition. Sienkiewicz's art fails at that. It looks artsy, but it's almost impossible to tell what the fuck is going on in any given panel. Niles takes the time to introduce us to this group of victims...err...travelers and even with a panel showcasing each one I couldn't tell them apart later on. There are some pages where he's trying to go for a snow effect, what with it being in Alaska in the middle of winter and all, but it just looks like someone took a sponge and dragged it across what was once a picture of a truck. It's bad.

The trade features Steve Niles' script of the first issue and a few pieces of concept art from Sienkiewicz. Although Niles provides descriptions of what would eventually become the panels of the book, it still doesn't make any sense of Sienkiewicz's art.

30 Days of Night: Beyond Barrow had good intentions, but it ultimately failed in execution. The story had an interesting idea in that the town was going to come up against something that even vampires were afraid of, but this was pushed to the back burner with a story I've seen a dozen times before. It's basically the plot of the second Jurassic Park movie except you can replace dinosaurs with vampires and then cram the whole thing into the length of your average sitcom.



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