Polar: Came from the Cold by Víctor Santos

Title: Polar.
Story-arc: Came from the Cold.
Volume: 1.
Writer(s): Víctor Santos.
Illustrator(s)Víctor Santos.
Colourist(s): Víctor Santos.
Letterer(s): Víctor Santos.
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics.
Format: Hardcover.
Release Date: November 26th 2013.
Pages: 160.
Genre(s): Comics, Mystery, Spy.
ISBN13: 9781616552329.
My Overall Rating: ★★★☆☆.


The mere thought of being involved in an organization where you’re sworn to secrecy can be quite scary today when you know that there are people out there that have done things against their own will that wouldn’t exactly fall within the parameters of the law. To even escape such commitments seems just as impossible as the risks are too high for an organization to let you leave with valuable knowledge. However, if you have a particular set of skills that allow you to do things that no one else could, retirement might, in fact, be a possibility.

What is Polar: Came from the Cold about? Centered around the world’s deadliest spy, known under the name of Black Kaiser, this 2012 webcomic and series of graphic novels tell the story of an international hitman whose being pulled out of retirement following an assassination attempt on his life while he’s happily indulging his freedom. The only way for him to return to his peaceful hermit routine is to either put an end to those seeking to kill him, including a torture expert and a seductive but deadly redhead, or to fall into their hands and die.


As much as you’d like this story to offer something innovative in terms of action or noir fiction, it, unfortunately, revisits the classic tropes of the genre while honouring predecessors who have nailed the creation of the perfect spy. In this first volume of a total of five works, readers get to enjoy the unstoppable wrath of a legendary spy and quickly understand what makes the Black Kaiser so powerful. With little to no dialogues to go with the artwork, the story is also extremely straight-forward with quasi-inexistent intrigue as Víctor Santos quickly establishes the protagonist’s invulnerability to just about everything.

It’s safe to say that the artwork wins over the story in this series as the author privileges a style over substance approach. Not only does he play with only three colours—orange, white and black—he also has a minimalistic visual style that focuses on juxtaposition, especially with shadows and blood splatters. His artwork also greatly complements his fast-paced action sequences as the reader is inclined to dissect each panel to fully appreciate the visual story-telling. The silent art thus favors an easy and simple read without breaking new ground.

Polar: Came from the Cold is an homage to spy tales with a classic story of survival articulated through staggering tricoloured artwork.


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Thank you to Penguin Random House Canada for sending me a copy for review!


Netflix released a live-action movie adaptation of this comic book series! Have you seen it?



21 thoughts on “Polar: Came from the Cold by Víctor Santos

  1. First off, “Black”(?!?!?) Kaiser? That’s African-American Kaiser to you buddy!

    Ok, ok, got that out of my system. As soon as you started talking about this my first thought was “Jason Bourne” and then “John Wick”. I realize Wick is 2 years AFTER this but Bourne, both the books and the movies (even that horrible 5th movie) were well before. So that makes the question be, was the creator of this webcomic paying homage to Bourne or was he trying to ride the “Rogue Assassin” train all the way to the bank?

    I’m beginning to wonder if “retired assassin back in business” is turning into a trope.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hahaha he seems pretty white in the comic book so I can’t say they miscasted him for the Netflix movie though. 😂

      I think his main hommage was to William Melville, who is also the inspiration for a lot of popular spies in fiction. But there are indeed a lot “retired assassin back in business” nowadays. I think it is indeed a trope in the making since it’s a nice premise to work with.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. The format is unusual here, wider than tall. But once again I am not fan of the drawing (sorry sorry) too “flat” but I appreciate the use of only three colors! It indeed seems to fit the story perfectly!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Nice review! 🙂 I haven’t read the comic but I did watch the Netflix film and I can definitely see the point you made about “a style over substance approach” when it came to that. I felt like I wanted to like the film way more than I did. Visually it was nice, though.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much! I also thought the movie had a peculiar style to it and that the story might not be as impressive as the cinematography. I look forward to trying it out soon to find out as well. I did hear about a potential sequel for the movie as well but the critics weren’t too kind with the first movie, diminishing the odds of a sequel a lot.

      Liked by 1 person

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