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Bane of Kings and Shadowhawk review the first two issues of Scott Snyder’s latest series, from Vertigo.
“A great opening take on what is sure to become a classic. Original, awesome, with some strong atmospheric artwork.” ~Bane of Kings, The Founding Fields
“With The Wake, Scott Snyder just may have another hit on his hands, and Sean Murphy looks set to become a top-notch artist in the industry along with colourist Matt Hollingsworth.” ~Shadowhawk, The Founding Fields
Bane of Kings:
Art: Sean Murphy
#1 – “THERE’S SOMETHING DOWN THERE…”
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 where they’ve discovered something miraculous and terrifying…
Writer Scott Snyder (BATMAN, AMERICAN VAMPIRE) and artist Sean Murphy (PUNK ROCK JESUS) bring their acclaimed talents to this sci-fi/horror epic that explores the horrors of the deep, probes the origins of human history, and leaps far beyond to a frightening future.
#2 – They call it the “Ghost Rig.” A secret, underwater oil rig 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! Part two of the incredible new series by Scott Snyder and Sean Murphy!
Horror comics aren’t normally my preferred genre – I’ve only read a few, the first volume of American Vampire by Snyder, which I surprisingly didn’t like (In fact, it’s the only Snyder book that I haven’t liked from him so far), Sandman Vol. 1 by Neil Gaiman, which was awesome, and also the first Volume of The Walking Dead, which was likewise awesome. So you can say my experience of the genre in this particular medium is limited, but still – given Snyder’s incredible work on Swamp Thing and Batman, and more recently Superman Unchained, I was never going to pass this series by, especially if it was only a ten issue mini-series.
Over these two issues, with issue three due in a couple of weeks, Snyder has created a very atmospheric tale that should appeal to not just horror fans, but also those who enjoyed his more mainstream comics that I’ve mentioned above. It’s a very unusual setting for horror, and the two issues don’t disappoint, kicking off with an enigmatic issue that teases greater things in store for future installments.
The main character, Lee Archer, is a female Marine Biologist who’s incredibly well realised and constructed as a three dimensional character with a less than pleasant past as hinted at in the first issue alone. Over the course of the two issues, she becomes a character who you can really root for, and I love the way how Snyder has managed to allow plenty of time for world-building, and establishment of the character – as well as move forward with the narrative at a fairly solid pace.
Whilst I haven’t read Punk Rock Jesus, Sean Murphy’s art is spectacular. His fantastic artistic skills are really something awesome – and if for some reason Greg Capullo ever walks off Batman (which I hope this never happens), we may have found a great replacement in Sean Murphy. (Or Becky Cloonan, whose art in #12 of Batman was superb.) This creative team is incredibly strong together, and it seems that Snyder has a habit of working with great artists – Jim Lee’s Superman Unchained visuals are superb, and I’ve already talked about Capullo’s stunning Batman artwork.
I’m not going to spoil any details of the plot for you, because I believe that these two issues are best experienced going in blind, with no questions asked before you’ve even started reading. You don’t get very many water-themed horror stories out there, and Snyder’s method of storytelling is super awesome in the way that he’s constructed it.
Overall, then – both issues are really spectacular, and I can’t wait for #3. This series is sure to become a classic – and anybody who’s not reading The Wake already should take this opportunity to jump on board whilst we’re only two issues in.
Scott Snyder, based on his superb success with Batman, is currently one of the top writers in comics right now. His scripts, alongwith Greg Capullo’s fantastic art have made Batman into a superstar series for DC, to the point that it almost always features in the top monthly comics (by sales) lists and has become a mainstay of DC right now. Until quite recently, he was also the writer for DC’s Swamp Thing and is currently the writer for the brand-new Superman Unchained series. On top of all that he has been writing American Vampire for Vertigo for a fair bit of time now. Suffice to say, he is a fairly busy guy, about as busy as you can get these days. Other than Batman, I’ve only read Superman Unchained, the first two issues. While I’m still a bit iffy on the series at this early stages, I’ve been impressed and interested enough to stick around for at least two more issues.
Since I generally enjoy his writing so much, when he announced that he was going to be writing a brand-new series for Vertigo and that this would be a post-apocalyptic story of sorts, I was excited enough to want to pick it up on release. Which I did. I read through the first issue and then the second issue when it came out earlier this month and all I could think of was: I want more, more and more.
The Wake has a rather interesting story structure. Instead of a chronologically straight story with (perhaps) a few flashbacks, Scott has decided to jump around time, with the story taking place 200 years in the future (the present as far as the story is concerned), the present, and “flashbacks” set millions of years in the past. It is a great way to tell a story with the kind of epic scope that The Wake has and I’m completely in love with the approach. It adds so much more to the whole reading experience. I commented the other day on the technical aspect of the four Superman comics that told of his fight against Doomsday in The Death of Superman Book 1: Doomsday, how the writers used the number of panels on each page of their comic to count down to the final big moment. Scott Snyder uses a particular technique to tell his story as well, and I’m all praise for it.
The main character so far appears to be a marine biologist named Lee Archer who is recruited to rejoin a secret government organisation she was thrown out of (or left) some time back. The lure for her is to win back custody of her son and to have all the funding she’ll ever need for her projects (this reads so much like Jurassic Park that I was grinning like an idiot at the reference). Through her, we get to see the mystery behind a secret government facility near Alaska and find out more about the hidden history of our world. It is all absolutely riveting stuff. Scott has a great eye for these big reveals every few pages, especially the final pages, and he delivers it all in as mind-bending a manner as you can get.
In either of the two issues, there is never a dull moment narratively.
In terms of the art, I really like what Sean Murphy has done here. He captures the moods of Scott’s scripts really well and his pencils are something to behold. As Bane mentioned, should Capullo ever retire from Batman (I think he has an indefinite contract to stay on the title for as long as he wants, and I hope that this is forever and ever), Sean Murphy would be a great fit. He gets all those dark moments. Combine all this with the absolutely amazing colours by Matt Hollingsworth, and The Wake is pretty much a smash shit. Sean and Matt make a great team with Scott and it is great to see the final results. The visuals in each of the two issues, along with all the big splash pages, are one of a kind, not to be equaled.
Really, what it boils down to is the fact that this is the type of story I would expect to see in a top-rated SFF show. The Wake would make for an excellent SFF horror live-action series, if these first two issues are anything to go by. Both Scott and Sean have created a really original and unique world and they’ve provided the reader with intriguing characters and a gripping plot. After the somewhat lackluster outing in Scott’s Superman Unchained, my faith in his work outside of Batman has been fully restored, and I can’t wait to read issue 3 and see more of Sean’s brilliant moody and dark artwork.
This series definitely has my thumps up.