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White Death

3.30  ·  Rating details ·  171 ratings  ·  33 reviews
For four years, The Great War, World War One, raged across the planet. Millions were sent to their deaths in pointless battles. The Italian Front stretched along the borders of Italy and the Austro-Hungarian Empires, in treacherous mountain regions.
In the last months of 1916, a private in the Italian Bersaglieri returns to his childhood home in the Trentino mountain
Paperback, 96 pages
Published June 23rd 2002 by Ait/Planetlar (first published June 1st 1998)
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Average rating 3.30  · 
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 ·  171 ratings  ·  33 reviews

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I'm not a huge fan of Charlie Adlard's work - I find his pencils on The Walking Dead almost as lazy as Kirkman's phoning-it-in-from-the-beach writing.

Partly it's because of his sloppy framing and weak portraiture - especially during action sequences - making it nearly impossible to understand who's who or which direction we're looking at through each frame. Makes a war comic pretty frustrating - like we're supposed to genuflect at his feet and take the storytelling burden on ourselves in
David Schaafsma
Dec 19, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gn-war, wwi
This is the review I did in December 2014:

The 100th anniversary of the Great War is upon us, so there's a few WWI books coming out. . . and this is a reprint of Morrison's story from a decade or so ago, for the occasion. . . With Walking Dead artist Charlie Adlard doing the art here. If you like Walking Dead (and I just don't, much), you will recognize the art style, charcoal and ink, a sketchy rough feel for vampires and soldiers. . . Earthy. The White Death is a cannon-induced avalanche, many
Tom LA
Sep 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Absolute masterpiece. I’ll write some more comments later, but I only wish that there were more graphic novels as clever, well-crafted, heart-felt and beautiful as this one. The drawing technique is an exquisite match for the topic and the plot: white chalk and black charcoal over a grey background. As a huge plus, the authors worked on this as a labor of love (vs. a commission or a big publisher’s request), and boy, it shows.
Urthwild Darkness Beckons
War, what is it good for?

War, by Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong


As everyone knows by now 2014 marks the 100th year anniversary of the start of the first World War.

Over 16 million dead and 21 million wounded, empires destroyed all because of what happened between 1914 to 1918.

Incredible charcoal and chalk artistry by Charlie Adlard, yes, but not the most cohesive of stories.

Most wars are futile, and this graphic novel gives us just a small hint of what it could have been like
Philip Girvan
Apr 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
"Fools and inbred, aristocratic halfwits in charge behind the lines and mad bastards at the front" -- Corporal Stellani, Medical Corps, 97th Bersaglieri

This gripping story focuses on the struggle between Italy and the Austro-Hungarian Empire for control of the Trentino, Dolomite, and Caporetto Mountains. Robbie Morrison's storytelling is made particularly horrific by Charlie Adlard's beautiful yet chilling illustrations. Good to see a comic aspire to, much less achieve, this level of art. Highly
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White Death ended up being a difficult book for me to review: I was lost about 25% through and never regained the story at the end. So I reread and still have no idea what the story was other than it was soldiers, death, some prostitutes, lots of snow. And that's hard, especially after reading the forewards and how proud the writer/illustrator were of this piece and what it meant to them. It should have all worked so
Soobie's scared
I had to read it twice to actually understanding what was going on in this graphic novel. In fact, after reading #1, I was on the verge of giving it but then I started all over again and my rating went up.

Why did it change so much? Well, I always have troubles distinguishing the characters in a graphic novel. I can't see the little characteristics that make them different one from the other. Yeah, most of the times it annoys me and I don't who to blame. So, during my first reading I didn't know
Alice Marsh-Elmer
The illustrations caught me immediately. With a background in fine art, I recognized the charcoal-on-watercolor paper look immediately, and it continued to enthrall me throughout. There was a huge amount of emotion, story, and turmoil in a few short strokes, and the ability for white/black charcoal to portray snowstorms and flurry made it real for me. Occasionally, it did become hard to distinguish characters. This is not a flaw I've never encountered before, and I think is simply an unfortunate ...more
Wanted to really like this one. But I just liked it. The subject is excellent, highlighting an oft overlooked part of World War I. Some of the thematic tensions are pretty good too. But Morrison's script is muddled by subpar characterization, which undercut my emotional connection to anyone. And with that also went the dramatic tension. It all unfolds at about the same volume and register, and after a while it starts to wash over you.

Adlard's charcoal & chalk on grey paper technique is a
Sep 29, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is one of those rare times when I am a little lost for words about a book. Honestly, I've been sitting here for a while thinking about how I wanted to approach this review. White Death was a wonderfully drawn book, with an intriguing story, but I feel that there was something missing -- something more I needed, but I cannot put my finger on it.

White Death was written by Robbie Morrison after the discovery of two bodies in the Italian Alps that were identified as young Austro-Hungarian
The modern conception of World War I is dominated by images of horrific trench warfare, poison gas, and swarms of men being mowed down by machine guns in the fields of France and Belgium. But it's always been the war's other arenas that grabbed hold of my imagination, especially the English and German skirmishes in East Africa (a good novel about the war there is William Boyd's An Ice-Cream War). About a decade ago, I read a highly autobiographical novel (The Sardinian Brigade, by Emilio Lusso) ...more
John Burt
Aug 10, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I immersed myself in the First World War while writing on it a couple of years ago, and studied it in many aspects beyond the Belgian trenches I wrote about, but I was never really aware of the bitter, cruel fighting along the Italian-Austrian front.
War fought on mountainsides. War fought in a Winter so cold the bodies of the dead were piled up to reinforce the trenches, the soldiers knowing the bodies would not begin to rot until the following Spring. War fought with bayonets and rifles and
Wayne McCoy
Sep 02, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: graphic-novels
'White Death' is a reprint from an earlier time in Charlie Adlard's career right before he became known for his work on 'The Walking Dead' comic book series. That style is very evident here in a haunting tale from World War I.

Writer Robbie Morrison was inspired to write the story after a couple bodies were uncovered from ice in the Italian mountains. The bodies belonged to Austrian soldiers of the war fighting in the Italian Alps at high altitudes. During the 5 battles of the campaign, brutal
Having known nothing of this book, or its creators, I was happy to see the distinctive look it presented – white chalk and graphite on grey paper – but still annoyed by its flaws. The style is perfectly in keeping with the mountainous landscapes used as a battleground on the northern Italian border in WWI, and really allows for everything the artist needs – a gentle snowflake, a Dantean field hospital, etc. It's a shame the story is a little over the place – a gung-ho commanding officer using ...more
Victoria Whipple
Sep 17, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: war, adult-title
This is a raw gritty story of World War I and a grim view of the front and the men who fought there. The story itself feels a little disjointed, but that almost adds to the authenticity of the unpredictable nature of war. The artwork is beautiful, with the textures and colors effectively portraying the grit and gruesomeness of battle on the front lines. The "white death" referred to in the title was the avalanches that were deliberately caused by both sides in the Italian alps during the war. ...more
Elle Markov
Oct 21, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The story follows the despair of the conflict at the Austrian-Italian border during World War I.

Pietro Aquasanta has returned to his old village as a soldier and is now encountered with the sorrows of war. Through the story he often clashes with Orsini, his commanding officer, who has adopted an approach of kill or be killed and do whatever it takes for you to survive and screw the brother standing next to you.

The story is sad and the black and white of the drawings really works well to convey
Sep 23, 2015 rated it liked it
A rather predictable story that does well to highlight the struggles faced during WW1. My main issue is in how short it is. Character progression feels rushed leading to a stale sense surrounding the characters who envelop tropes without really expanding on them in an interesting way.
The art style is crude, which at times can lead to some wonderful panels, however for most of the GN it feels like an unrefined sketch that the artist just decided to let go anyway.
I was actually really interested
Paul Allard
Sep 28, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The war on the Italian front is less well-known that what occurred in Belgium and France. This comic collection tells of the futility of war in a different area. The Italian troops use avalanches – the white death – to target the enemy trenches.

It’s also about the Italians who lived on the Austrian side of the Tyrol who end up torn between the two sides and fighting each other.

The black and white artwork is hard-hitting and effective, showing in details the horrors of war.

Recommended to lovers
Simon Sweetman
May 18, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
On the recent binge of graphic-novels/bios/journalism/history this has been the only disappointment (so far). My fault I guess - as the subject is not really of interest, I was sold on the cover in a sense; that somewhat betrays the overall artwork too which, though I'm not qualified to critique, I didn't at all connect with - perhaps that's the aim, icy, detached, cold, grey, etc but I did not enjoy this and couldn't recommend it. There were text/layout issues too - some poor choices in the ...more
Tim Brown
May 31, 2013 rated it liked it
One of very, very few comics set in the Great War. The only one I know of set in Italy. I really dug the artwork. I read it over a decade ago when if first came out and I remember feeling a bit disappointed - I felt like I was reading a preview to a truly epic graphic novel. I wish there was 400 more pages of it.
Emilia P
Feb 02, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: comic-books
Committing the cardinal sin of having-characters-you-can't-tell-apart in situations that don't quite flow narratively, and not using the titular premise (AVALANCHE!) to much use kind of made this a wash. I did however enjoy the mood the illustrations set and the World War I nihilistic setting -- it could have been so much more!!
Jonathan Roberts
Feb 02, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
Did not know about this period of the First World War! Good read
Jul 11, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: graphic-novels
A tragic and beautiful look into the fighting between Italian and Austrian forces during the First World War. Moving at times. Just wish there was more to it.a
Patrick Hoecherl
Great art. A little gorey for my tastes though. Interesting account of WWI in the Alps. Depressing
Jan 23, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A decent war story. Very depressing and a bit hard to follow who all the characters are.
Sep 24, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: graphic-novels
Beautifully drawn, sparely but movingly and honestly written graphic treatment of the often overlooked Italo-Austrian front in the Dolomites during WWI.
Ty Keith
Sep 08, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A haunting portrayal of life in the trenches on a mostly forgotten front of World War One.
Aug 20, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: graphic-novels
Depressing. Read it if you like war stories, but there is no glory in this one.
Isaac Willard Chen
Dec 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing
An excellent portrayal of what it means to be a soldier, and the horrors of war.
Oct 31, 2017 rated it really liked it
Charlie Adlard’s drawing technique of chalk and charcoal on grey paper is perfect for this story set in WW1 on the Italian front. Based on true events and accounts it explores a little known weapon of WW1 - the avalanche. It also explores more mundane elements of life on that front and reveals some other interesting facts about the war. The story is well paced and coherent and the art style is really evocative, engaging the senses and often leading you to forget that you are reading a graphic ...more
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