Victor and Nora: A Gotham Love Story (2020)
A decent origin story for Mr. Freeze
If you’re a fan of Batman: The Animated Series, you’ll appreciate this graphic novel. That’s not to say you’ll necessarily like Victor and Nora: A Gotham Love Story. But you’ll definitely appreciate these two characters getting their own comic.
The story of Victor and Nora won an Emmy Award for writing back in 1993 for Batman: The Animated Series. The episode introduced Mr. Freeze to the series as a criminal and doctor obsessed with ice. In the episode, we find out that his criminal endeavors fund his research into the terminal illness that forced his wife to be cryogenically frozen. This 1992 episode introduced the now standard version of Mr. Freeze to DC Comics. Victor and Nora: A Gotham Love Story uses the episode’s premise and tweaks it for a young adult audience.
In the novel, Victor Fries is a seventeen-year-old cryogenics lab intern. Nora Kumar has just moved back to St. Agnes, Gotham with her father and younger brother. Victor and Nora accidentally meet each other for the first time at the cemetery where his brother and her mother are buried. While the two eventually grow close and start dating, Nora keeps a secret from him. She has a degenerative neurological disease and plans to kill herself on her seventeenth birthday.
My initial thoughts
I was really happy to see that DC was putting out some standalone graphic novels in 2020-2021. I’m a big fan of one-shot comics. Of course, I was less excited to find out that they were mostly for children and young adults. Still, I was interested enough to at least read their synopses. While some of them seem to have potential, others seem to have been designed by committee based on current hot button topics. Victor and Nora: A Gotham Love Story was one of those graphic novels I felt had potential.
I really like the concept of a Victor/Nora backstory. I know Mr. Freeze well enough from a number of Gotham-related properties and I almost always like him. But I don’t know Nora, the woman who motivates Mr. Freeze’s criminal activities, at all. After reading Victor and Nora: A Gotham Love Story, I wish I could say that Nora is a character I now know and love. Unfortunately, she has only as much depth as you’d expect to find in a graphic novel for young adults.
What I liked
I always enjoy reading a new origin story for characters I’m familiar with. Victor and Nora: A Gotham Love Story is no exception. The slow reveals are what make the journey fun and exciting. As a reader, I’m always thinking ‘What mysterious route is this story going to take to get me to the part I already know?’
The novel has some decent character motivations. Victor is distant from people because of his guilt surrounding his brother’s death. Meanwhile, Nora is looking to enjoy her last days before she commits suicide. Their meeting catalyzes a series of new motivations for each of them. She wants to experience a romantic relationship for the first time, and he wants to save her life using his scientific research. Victor and Nora: A Gotham Love Story might not have the most mature storytelling, but it isn’t for mature audiences anyway.
I also really like the coloring of Victor and Nora: A Gotham Love Story. Victor’s panels and dialogue are blue, while Nora’s are pink. When they were together, the two colors are strategically applied within the same panels. It’s a pretty simple formula but it’s highly effective.
What I didn’t like
The modern day setting of Victor and Nora: A Gotham Love Story takes away some of its impact. It’s intentional by DC to be relatable to young adult audiences, so I didn’t expect differently before I picked up the book. In fact, I expect all of DC’s announced young adult graphic novels to have a modern setting. Still, to have such an epic comic book tragedy reduced to a teen romance novel feels like a small slap in the face to Victor and Nora. More than that, the characters’ modern looks, actions and dialogue feel like an imposition while reading, at times.
Victor and Nora: A Gotham Love Story is a decent backstory for Mr. Freeze. If you’re able to embrace the young adult angle while reading, you’ll enjoy this book. There’s not too much depth to the story, but there’s enough to be invested. Remember: this is for young adults.
Source: Victor and Nora: A Gotham Love Story (Lauren Myracle, Isaac Goodheart) (DC Comics) (2020)