Summary (spoilers ahead): The central characters we follow in this tale are Victor Fries, a seventeen-year-old genius who lost his older brother Otto in a fire seven years ago. This story takes place in the summer of 2021. Nora, a sixteen-year-old girl who will turn seventeen in August, who lost her mother when she was just ten. Both of these teen’s loved ones are buried in the same cemetery in Gotham.
Victor always goes to visit his brother’s grave in June and he is here today. Victor still misses his brother Otto and wipes a tear from his eye. Victor admits to himself that when Otto died, his blood turned cold. Victor sits down to have a conversation with his dead brother. When Otto died, Victor turned to science and now he is an intern at Boyle Labs. Remember Victor is only seventeen years old. Victor is alone as his mother and father both were destroyed in their own ways after the death of their son Otto. Victor has no other siblings.
We next meet Nora. She, her younger brother Julian, and their father are moving back to the old house which is outside the cemetery. We learn that Nora’s mom has died and she is buried in this cemetery. Both Otto and Nora’s mom died in 2014. We see that something is bothering Nora, she appears to be able to see a crow that her father cannot see. Nora wants to see her mother’s grave, she hopes her dad will say yes but she will go regardless. This is the last summer she will be able to do so, when the summer of 2021 ends so will she.
Victor picks this day every year because it was this day that his brother Otto was born. Victor’s mother is somewhere in Europe, he is not sure where and his dad is drinking his way through Metropolis. Victor is alone. Victor tells Otto and us that he is working in the cryogenics lab. He has created a compound that allows him to freeze a single-celled organism without destroying its DNA. He calls the compound Accela-Freeze. This compound also is able to heal preexisting cellular damage. Unfortunately, he is having difficulty using the compound on more complex organisms. He is interrupted by seeing a young woman at another grave. She approaches him and introduces herself as Nora. She is open and flirty with Victor and Victor starts to give her the cold shoulder. The two go for a walk. She tells Victor how her mother died when she was ten. It is sad to be back but it is also nice. Victor however does not share the details of his brother’s death.
Victor admits to himself and us that he is painfully shy and that is why he is being cold with Nora but he still stays with her. Nora asks Victor what is the worst way to die. The two trade stories about the worst way they could think of to die. Nora wins the debate then she mentions Gotham Bridge. She says the way to die is to do it on Gotham Bridge. Victor is surprised that she would talk about suicide. Victor is scared and grabs her wrist and shouts what is wrong with her. Victor tells her that Otto would be twenty-three today. Nora realizes that she upset Victor and apologizes and places her hand on the side of Victor’s face. Victor asks if she would really kill herself. We see the crow from before. The crow lands and Victor appears not to be able to see the bird. Nora does tell Victor that she is more interested in living, not dying. She changes the topic to ice cream and the two leave for some.
We now seem to enter Nora’s mind. She admits that she told Victor the truth, she is not interested in dying but death appears to be interested in her. She tells us that she was diagnosed with an illness called chrysalisis. It is a degenerative neurological disease that will kill her. The disease will basically slowly rob her of her memories, including her friends, family, and how to take care of herself. In the end, she will forget herself and stop being Nora. Nora plans to rob the disease of the victory of killing her by killing herself on her birthday in August of this year. Nora does not have much time.
What happens is a whirlwind romance where Nora slowly thaws Victor’s heart. Victor takes her to the lab and shares with her his work on the Accela-Freeze compound. For her part, she introduces Victor to Julian and her father. Her family falls in love with him. Victor wishes that he could introduce Nora to his family and has a flashback of the fire that kills Otto. Nora notices a change in Victor’s demeanor and Victor chalks it up to low blood sugar. Nora takes him out for fresh air. Nora admits to Victor that she likes him and asks him if he will ever ask her on a real date. Victor stammers and Nora takes the initiative and asks Victor out.
The date is on July 1, 2021. They go to Robinson Park but it is closed. Nora does not care and the two enter the park anyways. The two now are closer to Gotham Bridge. Victor’s heart melts and he shares with her how the fire that killed his brother was started and that he feels responsible. Nora now comforts him and it is she that is keeping him afloat. Victor changes the subject back to his compound and what he hopes to be able to do with it. He wants to find a way to freeze mammalian tissue. Victor now kisses Nora.
We now meet Nora’s three friends. They did not know where Nora was until they called and Julian told them. They are now here to visit her while Victor drops by to visit her as well. The kids now all go shopping and in the end, Nora promises that she will see Victor alone the next night.
July 9, 2021, Julian is telling his family about a museum sleepover. Julian and his father will be spending the night in a museum. Nora asks Julian if he wants jam, Julian declines. Julian continues to ask his father if they could go and Nora asks Julian a second time if he wants jam. She has forgotten that she asked him that before. Nora’s father wants to talk to her alone.
He is concerned. Nora has not told her three friends about her illness and now she is moving fast to get attached to Victor. Nora pushes back on her father saying that what she does with her life is her business. The two start an argument and are quickly stopped by a running Julian demanding that they both stop fighting. Julian is in denial that his sister is dying and her dad fears that Nora is in denial also. The crow comes back to taunt Nora some more but is interrupted by Victor. He is going to take her to the lab again. Victor again shares with Nora his work. Victor is falling in love with Nora and so is Nora. She has fallen in love with Victor.
It is the night of the sleep in and Nora is planning a romantic date with Victor. She is looking at sleeping with him tonight. She is cooking dinner for both of them. A fire erupts in the kitchen. Victor jumps to stop it but Nora appears to have a panic attack. Nora realizes that she misread the recipe and cooked the chicken for an extra hour that caused them to burn up. The two settle for Chinese. Victor thinks Nora is just a bad cook but Nora shares with him about her illness and that she is dying. The two hug and are found in bed the following morning. Victor takes Nora back to Robinson Park and the two try surfing. Victor brings her home and her dad talks to Victor about the illness. Now Victor has a mission, he wants to find the cure and save the woman he loves. He becomes obsessed with working in the lab and spending time with Nora. Victor soon realizes that he cannot find a cure in half a month but perhaps if he freezes her he could bye some time.
Victor now comes up to Nora’s room to visit her. He shares with her his idea of freezing her and reviving her after he finds the cure. She is not so sure about this plan.
Nora’s dad calls Victor while he is in the lab. Nora had a check-up that did not go well. She leaves and her dad believed that she went home but he could not find her but instead found her suicide note. She has decided to move the date of her death up. Victor searches for her and finds her on Gotham Bridge. He tries to stop her. She is set to kill herself. Victor tells her that her dad found her letter. He was not supposed to see the letter until August 4, her birthday. Victor tries to tell her and convince her that his plan will work but she is afraid and climbs over the fence to jump. Victor grabs her and pulls out the syringe containing the compound. He intends to inject her. He realizes that if he does this to her, she will hate him and he will lose her love. Nora has a change of heart and brings the needle up to her neck and with Victor’s hand still on the syringe injects herself with the compound and she slowly freezes in Victor’s arms. He will find the cure and he will warm her up again.
Analysis: This is an interesting telling of this story. In another telling, Victor and Nora are married but the overall gist of the story is the same. She is dying and the only way Victor thinks he can save her is by freezing her in the hopes that he will be able to find the cure and then thaw her when he does. This is a tragic story that tugs at the heart. With art, this is a powerful story.
On the art, I liked it. Nora and Victor are both depicted as very attractive but not in an overly sexual way. This is good since both are in their teens and are minors. This does lead me to some complaints I have with a scene in the story.
That complaint is the dinner date. It is powerful because this is the scene that Nora finally tells Victor about her illness. I also find this scene problematic as well. In the beginning, we see Nora a sixteen-year-old girl in her underwear. I do not believe that depicting this and the fact that she wants to look hot for Victor to be appropriate and it really does not advance the story. At the end of the scene, we see Nora and Victor in bed together. I feel this scene was also not needed. The two are teenagers and this story is written for young adults, I do not believe that this is the appropriate subject matter and again it does not advance the story. We see the two tease each other which we see in other scenes of this story.
I liked the use of the crow as a way to show the slow progression of the disease on Nora. It creates a good visual representation of the disease and how it is affecting Nora on the inside. I also liked placing the list of suicide prevention and domestic violence resources at the end of the story.
Final Thoughts: This is a touching story that has heart and a message, however, I do have a problem with the use of sex and sexuality especially when the characters are all minors. Overall, I liked it but the sex scene does take away from the heart of the story.
Editor’s Note: DC Comics provided TBU with a copy of this comic for review purposes. You can find this comic digitally and help support TBU in the process by purchasing this issue through Comixology.