Friday, September 26, 2014

Review: THE WAKE (Vertigo)


Writer: Scott Snyder | Artist: Sean Murphy | Colors: Matt Hollingsworth

When Marine Biologist Lee Archer is approached by the Department of Homeland Security for help with a new threat, she declines, but quickly realizes they won’t take no for an answer. Soon she is plunging to the depths of the Arctic Circle to a secret, underwater oilrig filled with roughnecks and scientists on the brink of an incredible discovery. But when things go horribly wrong, this scientific safe haven will turn into a house of horrors at the bottom of the ocean!

Collects: The Wake #1-10

This is a tricky one to review. This is the whole ten-issue run of the series, which means a lot happens. The multiple timelines, the expansive scope of the story… There’s a lot crammed into this book. It’s the most ambitious of Snyder’s stories that I’ve read, and while I found it excellent on a number of levels, the second half really let the book down.

The first half of the book is a great, atmospheric, horror-infused tale of under-the-sea beasties and mystery. The artwork is particularly awesome, too, with great use of negative space and deep, deep shadows to really create an air of suspense and intensity. Part 1 takes us up to the catastrophe hinted at in the prologue, as a group of marine scientists (and a high-tech poacher) are brought together to investigate a creepy-looking mermaid:


Naturally, everything goes wrong. Otherwise, the second part of this global catastrophe tale would be rather tricky to explain…

Unfortunately, Part 2 was nowhere near as strong as the first. True, I really liked the modern-take on a Waterworld-esque post-apocalypse. The main character in this timeline is interesting, too. However, the story starts to unravel in its expansiveness. There’s so much going on, as Snyder weaves this massive global-history-spanning mystery. Events lurch forward at times, with a fair number of surprise reveals that seem to come out of nowhere (and not always in a good way). I ended up feeling a bit frustrated, as new elements were thrown at me seemingly out of nowhere. I was sadly disappointed. This had so much potential, and I think Snyder et al have done a competent job of executing it for the most part. But ultimately the ending felt a bit flat.


An ambitious global catastrophe story, but sadly one that doesn’t quite live up to expectations. It’s still well-worth reading, but I think Snyder has done better. Maybe it’s a case of the ten issues not being enough to contain just how much story the team has come up with.

I get the feeling that The Massive (published by Dark Horse Comics and written by Brian Wood) might be a better post-environmental collapse comics series.

1 comment:

  1. Calling "The Wake" an ambitious global catastrophe story is giving it too much credit. Snyder got the first arc planned but even then you got the feeling he don't really know where to go with it all. In the end, I don't think it was a case of the no. of issues but a case of not knowing what to do, so he tried everything. I have the feeling Snyder was making things up as he went along.