36 years ago - Caitlyn Snow is born.
18 years ago - 18-year-old Caitlyn Snow goes to college.
14 years ago - 22-year-old Caitlyn Snow begins her post-grad work in particle physics. Martin Stein is her advisor, and she falls in love with him.
11 years ago - 25-year-old Caitlyn Snow first meets incoming college freshman Ronnie Raymond as his TA, hates him immediately and tries to get him expelled.
10 years ago - 26-year-old Caitlyn Snow tries to seduce Martin Stein on the day of the Nuclear Matrix accident. she steals parcels of data from the accident, using them as breakthru in her own Biocryonic research.
9 years ago - 27-year-old Caitlyn Snow conducts her Biocryonic experiment using data from the Nuclear Matrix. She is mutated into a heat vampire, and becomes Killer Frost. She attacks Ronnie Raymond & Martin Stein as Firestorm who has to find a way to adapt to her powers.
7 years ago - 29-year-old Caitlyn Snow reclaims her power, having discovered the nature of the Firestorm matrix. She attempts to separate Ronnie Raymond & Martin Stein.
5 years ago - 31-year-old Caitlyn Snow attacks a lab in Hawaii appropriating her research, but is stopped by Superboy and finally imprisoned.
3 years ago - 33-year-old Caitlyn Snow manages to escape from prison with Victor Fries, and helps him construct a new body. He betrays her and she is again imprisoned.
For a character who clearly occupies a pretty high tier of visibility in the DC mythology, Firestorm doesn't actually seem to exert a lot of influence on the larger world of DC. The character has lead several long-running solo series, he's a Justice League mainstay, and was even a cast member of the classic Challenge of the Super Friends. Still, the worldbuilding that takes place within his story seems to, for the most part, be confined there. The one huge exception is Killer Frost. She's originally a Firestorm Villain, but she has achieved massive visibility, showing up all across the map in a wide variety of appearances. Virtually every animated take on the DC universe has used Killer Frost in one way or another. This wide visibility has led to quite a few variations on her concept, so we get to once again dig into a character with a lot of variety and design what we think is the single best take.
Killer Frost's Comic History
The original Killer Frost, Crystal Frost, first appeared in Firestorm #3 in 1978. She was a student studying under Martin Stein who fell in love with him, had her heart broken when she was rebuffed and wound up being locked in a 'thermafrost chamber' turning her into a heat vampire. She became one of the most visible Firestorm enemies, even joining the Secret Society of Super Villains. Eventually, she absorbed too much heat from Firestorm and died in Firestorm vol 2 #21 in 1984, and was quickly followed by a new version of the character in the same issue. She was a friend and college of Crystal named Louise Lincoln who blamed Firestorm for her death who chose to replicate the experiment to become the new Killer Frost, dedicated to getting her revenge on the hero.
Louise is by far the most recognizable version of the character. She became a member of the Suicide Squad and often showed up in various animated takes on DC. She persisted all the way up until 2011, when DC reset itself into the New 52.
Many classic villains were reimagined with new civilian identities in the new timeline, and Killer Frost was a pretty big one. She was now Caitlyn Snow, a STAR labs scientist working in an artic research facility on a "Self-Sustaining Thermodynamic Engine' whose inventor, Dr. Louise Lincoln (see what they did there?) had supposedly committed suicide. It was revealed that the station was being sabotaged by H.I.V.E., and she wound up, like her classic predecessors, a heat vampire with sold powers who battled Firestorm.
This version of Killer Frost was set up to be a little bit more sympathetic, since her story established her as being more of a victim rather than an angry jilted lover or revenge-crazed sociopath. It probably didn't hurt than the same character was essentially one of the good guys in the then-ongoing Flash TV series. Caitlyn joined the Suicide Squad during DC Rebirth, was a major character in the Justice League vs Suicide Squad crossover, and eventually wound up experiencing a redemptive arc when she joined a 29 issue Justice League of America series by Steve Orlando.
Our Killer Frost Story
The core story beats of Killer Frost's story are that she was a scientist whose experiment turned her into a heat vampire. That concept carries over all three versions, and that's an easy enough thing for us to use. We decided to use the newest version of the character's name since it's the most familiar to modern audiences, but beyond that the core question becomes which details do we want to lift from the different iterations of the character for our own singular version.
It might be a little regressive, but we actually really like the idea that she was once in love with the professor. There's some fun soap opera drama to be derived from that, and we actually pushed it a little further by making her hate Ronnie for all the reasons he's different than Martin. This doesn't mean she's evil because she feels rejected. That's sort of where the story falls flat. It's more that she was rejected because she's evil. Otherwise, we'd prefer to maintain that everything that happened to her happened because of her own actions. The sympathetic pseudo-hero version of Killer Frost is interesting, but she makes a much better villain.
Killer Frost's Costume
There are a lot of costumes to choose from, especially since there are three takes on the character each with her own distinct look. Crystal was essentially a take on the Snow Queen (the danish folk tale that was the basis for Frozen), while Louise looked more like an ice-elemental in a swimsuit. Caitlyn's look is probably a fan favorite... punk street clothes complete with her own logo on her tank top and a trendy undercut. It's a cool look, but it's pretty clearly a costume designed to set her up as a potential future antihero.
Our favorite takes on the character, as it happens, all come from her various animated appearances. There's no shortage of choices as she's a very popular character to adapt into the various series, from her simplified look in Justice League Unlimited to her more retro design in Young Justice. Personally, if I had to choose an ideal version of Killer Frost, it would be from the animated movie Suicide Squad: Hell to Pay. This take is clearly meant to be the modern, slightly sympathetic Killer Frost, but is still obviously a villain at her core. Her more stylized costume manages to marry the sexuality of Louise with the elegance of Crystal. Her bob is even a cool stand-in for the undercut.
Killer Frost's Future
Killer Frost is a pretty classic DC villain coming from a less-familiar corner of they mythology; you don't usually see Firestorm's enemies showing up that often, but she's absolutely everywhere. That high-profile makes her a great character for the Suicide Squad. She's joined the team in several incarnations and has worked really well there every time.
While the current comic continuity has established her as a much more sympathetic character and ever given her a heroic turn in the Justice League of America, this feels like a bit of a departure from who I, at least, understand the character to be. There is absolutely space in comics for villains who are in fact victims of their own power who, when given a chance, can become heroes, but it feels like short-changing the cool lethal character Killer Frost can be to put her in that role. The characters in the Suicide Squad are not good guys. That's part of the appeal of the team, and she fits that role so perfectly.
~ "Okay, so I do really like most of this, but I'm not a fan of using the Caitlin Snow name in place of Crystal Frost. The way I see it, mixing around names like this just ends up causing brand confusion, especially if the property is relatively obscure like Killer Frost is.
Crystal is the Tragic Villain, Louise is the Delightfully Psychotic Villain and Caitlin is the Redeemable Villain. DC's done a surprisingly good job keeping them distinctly separate so far (this is the company that made concepts as simple as Hawkman & Hawkwoman seem complicated and convoluted, so my expectations for them are set pretty low for the most part), so it's best to keep them that way.
Yeah, it's a pretty minor thing to get bothered by, but I figured I'd mention it just because DC has a history of mixing up and messing around with certain brands to the point where it's hard to distinguish between them (once again I point to the Hawks), and that sort of thing is just really frustrating for me.
I apologise in advance if any of this came across as too antagonistic; I love all the work that's gone into crafting this universe and appreciate how much time and effort it must take to do all of this, but I just personally believe that her original name should be used instead of Caitlin's."
I really love this comment, because it's so specifically "classic fan" vs "modern fan".
I totally agree that DC has done a really good (maybe even uncharacteristically good) job keeping the three different Killer Frosts seperate. For a long-time fan, the distinction between them is clear, comfortable, and actually kind of reasuring, because it's so out of the ordinary. From that perspective... I totally agree. It would have been the best choice to simply pick one of the three existing characters and run with that.
My thought process went something like this: we're not doing multiple Killer Frosts. that seems pretty straightforward: one of the most basic changes we're doing overall is stripping the whole timeline of unnecessary dupliucation of characters. We're also not picking just one character... we're building one that fufills the same narrative role that all versions of the character have filled.
While to some old school fans like you and me there's a clear difference between those characters, we're not including that distinction, so there was no reason we couldn't use this more classic take on the character and just give her the new name. It's just a case of cherry picking qualities from all three characters into our one verson. We could just as easily have called her Louise if we wanted to, but most casual fans recognize Caitlyn Snow. It's the name choice that does the most service to the character, and by extention the whole mythology. That's literally the entire thought process.
Now, if our goal was to accurately recreate existing comic continuity, then you would be 100% right... it would be vital that we keep the three versions of the character distinct and seperate. That's just a different project. I've met people doing that, btw, and it always blows my mind.