REVIEW: ‘Victor and Nora: A Gotham Love Story’

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Victor and Nora cover

Victor and Nora: a Gotham Love Story is a young adult graphic novel published by DC Comics. It is written by Lauren Myracle with art by Isaac Goodheart. Colours are from Cris Peter. Letters by Steve Wands. The story follows a young Victor Fries, long before he becomes the supervillain Mister Freeze.

In Victor and Nora, Victor Fries is simply a young scientist working in a cryogenic’s laboratory. Visiting his brother’s grave, a young woman named Nora approaches him and starts speaking to him. What begins is a powerful, blossoming romance as the young couple start spending the summer together. But Victor is unawares about the tragic secret his new friend is hiding.

Victor and Nora’s plot is very well-paced. The length of graphic novel allows the relationship between Victor and Nora. to be built naturally. It progresses fast, but it feels genuine and never rushed.  There are two tones within the graphic novel that coexist for its entirety. There is a sweetness to the romance, that melts even the coldest of hearts. But there is also a darkness that seems to sweep into the room at times, progressively getting stronger in the latter stages of the story. That said, the final pages are not surprising, but that isn’t important as this story is delightful to read from start to finish. 

Both of the characters in Victor and Nora are wonderfully scripted by Myracle. There is a very small cast, choosing to focus mainly on the two young lovebirds and how different they are. At the beginning of the graphic novel, Victor seems to contain much of the personality he may be better known for; cold but intensely intelligent. His life is built around science, as if that is all that matters to him.  The loss of his brother has frozen him. Death is clinical to him, now. In contrast, Nora is intense and loving and passionate, brimming with vibrant energy. But she also has a morbid side to her, brazenly discussing death as well. And very slowly, Nora starts to thaw the ice around Victor’s heart. 

Myracles’ writing of Nora is important, because DC and Batman fans have never really known what she was like as a personality. Discovering just what kind of person explains just why Fries was so devoted to her, even years later.

The relationship is impossibly adorable, containing several elements of a classic teenage love story. The first meeting; the first dates, the first kiss. But each one has a spin on it and feels unique to the characters. The sheer happiness that the couple exude when they are together is intoxicating, leading to the reader being blindsided by when the narrative takes a sad turn.

The dialogue is also wonderful, boosting the respective personalities of the lovers. Victor uses many long words, ones Nora often doesn’t understand. But he also manages to spin many conversations about himself, displaying a large ego that may become problematic. When Nora first speaks to Victor, she bounces all over the place. She answers questions that have long passed, jumping between topics. It showcases her energy straight away. 

The exchanges between the couple are full of adorable pieces of love language, mixed with deep, heartfelt conversation and tense confrontation when needed. Each piece of dialogue is endearing and graceful and lyrical in its creation.

Goodhart is fantastic on art. There is a cleanliness to the panels and the characters. There are no blemishes to their skin, creating a feeling of space on their faces. This smoothness allows their emotions to be solely displayed by their facial features, which the artist depicts brilliantly. The small smirks, the furrowed brows, small details that say a lot. What Goodhart also manages to accomplish is making the readers mimic the large grins on the protagonist’s face when they smile at each other. It is just one of a number of aspects that makes this story so heartwarming to read. 

The colours by Peter are achingly beautiful. The colourist allocates a colour to both protagonists which fills the pages around those characters. Victor is shrouded in a cold blue while Nora is given a warm, bright pink. When each of them is on the own, that is the sole colour that is used, suggesting the aura that surrounds them. For example, when Victor is in his lab, the only colours on the panel are shades of blue. But when they are together, the colours combine. Still separate, but both get to exist in the same place as each other. It is an amazing tactic that subtly defines the soul of this book. 

In their first meeting, the pink leaks into the blue of Victor’s panel as Nora is sitting a few metres from him. As he turns, her colour takes over. This shows the effect that she has on him.

The art and colour styles are interrupted briefly for small scenes. For the most part, they are one to two pages, but some are longer. Each one is in a different style, but the ones chosen all seem to be homages to other famous artists and stories. For example, there is a page that sparks memories of the art of The Very Hungry Caterpillar (artist Eric Carle), while another is a loving take on Edward Gorey’s iconic work. These are fun interjections that break up the regular pages, and both Goodhart and Peter adapt to the art styles superbly.

Finally, Wands’ font choice is very large, in a good way. The word balloons are effortless to read, allowing the reader to take in the lovely dialogue with ease.

Victor and Nora: A Gotham Love Story is a stunning, sweet and sad romance tale that tells the beginning of a story readers have been aware of for years. Batman followers know the conclusion, but this graphic novel treats Nora as a person, not a plot point. Myracle writes a deeply affectionate script about a young couple hopelessly in love and embracing life, at the same time tackling incredibly dark themes that hurt the soul. There are elements of science fiction within, but you could easily forget any connection to superheroes or any other aspect of the DC Universe.

The tragedy of this book is hinted within the title, A Gotham Love Story. Because what love stories within that city don’t end in sorrow?

Victor and Nora: A Gotham Love Story is available now, where comics are sold.

Victor and Nora: A Gotham Love Story
5

TL;DR

Victor and Nora: A Gotham Love Story is a stunning, sweet and sad romance tale that tells the beginning of a story readers have been aware of for years.