“It’s the dead of winter. Our tenth year of it. It gets dark at 4pm, it’s positively glacial out, it won’t quit snowing, and we’re running out of everything” — Marie, Nuclear Winter, Volume 2, n. pag.
|Cab (author and illustrator), Deron Bennett (letterer), Edward Gauvin (translator)
|Post-apocalyptic, Science Fiction, Fiction
|Environmental Themes and Issues
|Apocalypse, Extreme Weather, Nuclear Disaster, Climate Change, Mutated Organisms
|Flavie: White woman in her twenties
|Protagonist’s Level of Environmental Agency
|Level 3: Moderate, Plot-Driven Environmental Agency
This comic is the second installment in the three-volume Nuclear Winter series. This volume takes place in Montreal, Quebec ten years after a nuclear disaster transformed the city into a land of endless winter. The irradiated snow has also impacted the organisms living in the city. Many of the humans have developed physical anomalies or strange abilities, and the animals have mutated into bizarre new forms. The series centers on protagonist Flavie, a young woman in her twenties, who works as a snowmobile courier for Blizzard Express. In this volume, Flavie’s younger sister, Elsie, unexpectedly arrives to stay with her. Further complicating her life, Flavie’s friend Marco gets infected with the man-flu, a mutated version of the virus that only affects people with a Y chromosome. Flavie ventures out to find Marco cough syrup, but she discovers that Montreal has been impacted by widespread medication shortages due to thieves robbing delivery trucks.
Determined to track down the cough syrup, Flavie travels to the nearby Mount Royal, where the thieves allegedly have a hideout. She discovers a group of people living on the mountain and selling stolen medications on the black market. The group’s leader tries to pressure Flavie into selling their goods for them, but she refuses and escapes with some of the medications. While fleeing, Flavie encounters Elsie, who reveals that she had helped the group with their illegal activities and has been hiding at Flavie’s apartment since quitting. The sisters also encounter Marcel, the polar raccoon that Flavie rescued in the previous issue, who aids their escape. Flavie delivers the medication to Marco, and after he recovers from the man flu, they go on a first date.
This volume provides a more dire depiction of the nuclear winter than the previous installment, both in the grim illustrations and in the narrative. For example, Elsie discovers sores covering Flavie’s arms. Flavie confesses that the radiation has taken a toll on her health, saying, “I work outside, so I’m more exposed to radiation. It shows up differently on everyone. In my case, my internal temperature is all out of whack. If I stress out, I get really hot inside. Hence the burns. I’ve been taking potassium iodine for years. It does the job, keeps it under control. But I haven’t been able to find any for a few weeks now” (Cab, n. pag.). Additionally, Flavi references her rising heating bills, and her friend Leonie has moved out of the city, suggesting that conditions are worsening. However, none of the characters seek solutions to reverse or decrease the extreme weather, implying that humans lack the agency and/or ability to tackle this troubling environmental issue.