Yo! We still bangin’ out tons of reviews despite the fact our Super Bowl, San Diego Comic-Con, has come and pass. While we still have a few more Bible Scales, celebrity interviews — and one hell of an episode of #GHGtv — to throw at ya, everyday content is still passing through our daunted cool-church halls.
Y’all know the drill; it’s the.. ahem.. FISHful of SATURDAY Stash!
We’ve had to wait nearly 2-months for the conclusion to Scott Snyder and Sean Murphy‘s aquatic thriller, The Wake, but what I just read should last me a lifetime.
The conclusion is that damn good.
If you expected a straight-forward horror tale, using the tropes of the aquatic life and the depths that come with it, you’d be sadly mistaken. The Wake #10 — and the second-half of #9 — is no less a mind-fuck; not quite to the stature of 52 planets and 52 Batmans, but the maxi-series wades over a wealthy 200-years of Assassin’s Creedish history, drowned with elements that play both to the highest realm and most distant figments of your imagination.
Snyder (Batman) could have easily named this book The Seed, since that’s practically what’s been planted since day one. He transforms and transcends his straight-up thriller tale during the protagonist switch-up halfway through. Or antagonist, from the fish-man-species Mers point of view; although it’s later revealed how both these scaley sea-creatures and humans are eventually linked.
In fact, calling this a sci-fi horror mystery is almost a damn near spoiler– unless you’ve discovered every clue Murphy has so cunningly sketched — from paranoiac ship-deck to monster-amalgamated shipwreck — since The Wake‘s initial inception.
Thankfully, not all of Snyder & Murphy’s brilliance is shrouded in mystery.
If you read much Snyder (and I really have to check your geek-pulse if you’re not), you know the man is no stranger to exposition. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever witnessed the Man of Steel speak as much, especially to his villains, than in the writer’s Superman: Unchained. Thing is, Snyd’s good with words, great with expanding on his own mythologies, and often elucidates with far more mystery than mere telling over showing. You can bet his set design pieces — and the actions taken upon them — will end up epic as a result.
Snyder has also been great at getting his artist to level up the background art so it feels more like a montage or dream sequence, to which in the particular case of The Wake, has our lead gal often battling herself over wondering just that. When all’s said and done, The Wake is and appears far more than a dream; it’s apropos to an at-once history-horror blended with heart-pulsating thriller. And taking the action from the sea to the air is all just a part of Murphy and colorist Matt Hollingsworth‘s mastery.
The title was fine enough as a straight-up underwater thriller, but I came away with so much more when I woke the fuck up and discovered the sea.
Nodding to the reality of investigative reporting in today’s world by Ms. Diana Dane’s lack of employment, Supreme: Blue Rose #1 — from Planetary scribe, Warren Ellis — blends present-day and future days very well. The story begins in a foreboding dream sequence, and much like my own nocturnal “head movies”, makes little immediate sense.
The content progresses with a real-life rationalization session with Dane’s bestie, about an unreal topic of mystery that sets up the future storyline. But honestly, the biggest mystery to me is how anyone would pay an investigative reporter $300k.
And after reading this, I think the staff at GHG should seriously get a raise.
Visually, the blending of ink vs. digital art from Tula Lotay (Legends of Red Sonja) in this Image comic is almost seamless. The frames take on very appropriate filters and make you wish the comic book also came with an Instagram filter to use for your own personal use.
Overall, I’d keep reading out of sheer curiosity and the aesthetically pleasing frames. But first, lemme take a selfie.
Image’s Low #1, new from from Rick Remender (Captain America and recent dumb Twitter controversy) and Greg Tocchini (Star Wars Tales), comes strong out of the gates, a kind of undersea cross between Pacific Rim and Saga.
Set in the far future’s waning days of Earth, the story follows a married pair of explorers, sworn to protect the remnants of humanity via the use of a Helm suit, the deep-sea exploration/battle mech which only they are genetically able to use. On a proverbial 3-hour tour, the couple and their daughters are beset by pirates who abscond with the Helm suit, the father’s eye (needed to operate the suit), and as collateral, their daughters.
Tocchini’s art is consistently beautiful, though occasionally veers toward the abstract; making the staging of crucial scenes tough at-a-glance reads…
Remender’s script, meanwhile, takes its time doling out no small amount of exposition, without sacrificing the warm, lived-in relationship between the hero couple, favorably recalling Saga‘s Marko & Alanna.
(Sidebar: for those keeping track, this is the second consecutive review where I’ve linked the positive aspects of a new comic back to Saga; I feel like that’s not just me, but that the Vaughan/Staples masterpiece has been on the market long enough for its trickle-down influence to be felt.)
So much world-building leaves little time once the story-proper kicks in, forcing shit to get real across only a handful of panels. Now that this world is established and the stakes painstakingly set, I’m hoping for an issue #2 that feels free to get straight to Remender’s vicious, unstinting action drawn in Tocchini’s graceful hand.
After interviewing a few comic book writers at Comic-Con, I learned that their minds tend to go to dark places — even in their everyday lives — because they are so used to dreaming up difficult scenarios for their characters. This is especially true for Vertigo’s writer Si Spencer (Hellblazer: City of Demons), who, according to his afterword, got the idea for Bodies in a dream: “Four time periods, four detectives, four murders. Identical M.O., identical location-the twist? It’s the same body.”
And, for each time period, Spencer got a different artist to create a truly believable and distinct world in the same city: London. This book can easily spin off into 4 unique mini-series that readers would follow with undying interest.
The first chapter is set in London’s East End 2014 where various right-wing nationalist and religious groups are very much alive and real. A very capable Islamic female detective named Shahara Barber, who not only has to pacify racist rioters and solve a murder, but also has to deal with a suited politics-driven partner trying to get in her pants. Artist Meghan Hetrick (Batman: Joker’s Daughter) captures the mood of the present day with cool, bleak realism.
Then, Spencer and artist Dean Ormston (Judge Dredd) take readers to the gritty, soot-covered streets of Longharvest Lane, where good old Dr. Jack frequented to slice and dice the ladies of the night– and where Inspector Hillingshead discovers the body. In this chapter, one will notice an out-of-place scene at Whitechapel Lodge. Pay attention: An important symbol makes an appearance here, and will reappear when readers closely examine the victim’s body in the next chapter.
Tula Lotay (Um, Blue Rose up above) transports readers to Spencer’s sulfur tinted Ongarvane, London 2050 where pulsewaves affect memory and trigger hallucinations. Detective Maplewood is constantly at a loss for words, unable to recall words or even what she is doing in her apartment. As she looks onto the city below, notice the letters of Kappa Psi Alpha Lambda across her window archway much like the letters KYAL on a door in the first chapter. Wonder what the letters mean? Some sinister thought stealing squad? More conspiracies? Or is Spencer just messing with our minds?
Lastly, Phil Winslade (Jonah Hex) takes readers back to the East End in 1940 where reader watch Inspector Weissman, using a blowtorch, torture an Irishman named Lennon for entering his district. His purpose was simple: “to send a message.” Keep an eye out for the symbol seen in Chapter 2 and 3. As the chapter ends, characters stumble on a dead body with his face covered after an air raid on Longharvest Lane. Is this Lennon? We are all going to have to find out in the next book aptly named: Identity.
I don’t know about you, but with all these easter eggs, my interest is piqued.