Writer Scott Snyder
Artist Sean Murphy
Colors Matt Hollingsworth
Over the course of the last four or five years Scott Snyder has become a major force to be reckoned with in American comic storytelling with his creator owned Vertigo tile American Vampire, a strong run on DC’s Swamp Thing and the crowd pleasing Court of Owls storyline in Batman.
Now Snyder returns with a ten issue Vertigo series titled The Wake, a story which has all the atmospheric feeling of an early American pulp and which feels like it would easily fit into the cannon of the original Weird Tales magazine. It is only because he was born so late that this story didn’t appear alongside stories by HP Lovecraft, Clark Ashton Smith and Robert E Howard.
The Wake begins in the distant future where a metropolis, seemingly Gotham or New York, now lies half submerged by water. A future where a young girl on a hang glider and a Dolphin quest to find something, something which I am sure in time will prove to be vitally important to our story. Flashing back two hundred years Snyder introduces us to Dr. Lee Archer, a Marine Biologist, who is recruited by a Department of Homeland Security agent to go on a secret mission to an underwater oil rig in Alaska and investigate a strange whale song. But like in so many pulps, not everything is as it seems and only time will tell where this story may lead.
Now any first issue is difficult for the writer because you have only 22 to 30 pages to grab a reader and hold on to them. In the fast paced world of comic books this difficult and it is made doubly difficult in this comic because the story is very intellectual and utterly nondependent on fight scenes. This challenge however is not only met by Snyder he easily surpasses all expectations. In the eight page introduction to Lee Harper we learn more about her, both as a woman and a scientist, than we traditional do about characters in other books in a year. All without my once feeling like I was reading exposition. It is perhaps Snyder’s use of dialogue in this book which is most impressive as this book is mostly people sitting around talking and it doesn’t feel dry or boring.
Sean Murphy’s art while not beautiful is suburb and his harsh unfinished style lends to the book a realness that is lacking in so many comics today. It is almost as if Murphy is presenting to us the inner qualities of his characters instead of the carefully crafted facades they would have us see. Murphy’s style also just has the feel of “Vertigo” to me, an undeniable trait which suggests that the art is there to service the story, not the other way around as it is in other comics. Matt Hollingsworth’s colors add complexity to tale and he does a good job of demonstrating the relative lifestyle of the characters from the ocean dwelling and sun touched Archer all the way to the sickly colors of the underwater dwelling Agent Cruz.
The Wake is well worth the $2.99 per issue Vertigo is asking for it and if Scott Snyder’s other tales are any indication this story will be one you won’t want to miss.