The Wake #1 Review
By: Rob Neil Gruszecki
Upon the horizon of an abandoned metropolitan cityscape a hang glider soars past the reflection of a skyscraper to come in for a landing near the base of a mostly submerged world. The remains of this civilization humanity had shaped finds their structures and habitats swallowed back into the sea that birthed our kind. Life has thrived on however and as a creature of the depths resurfaces to wash away any remnants of mankind’s footprint, the lone person, freshly arrived in the drowning concrete jungle, on an unknown quest flies forwards in the constant struggle for survival.
200 Years earlier in the Gig Harbour of Washington a Marine Biologist, Dr. Archer, is approached by homeland security concerning a recording with vocalization patterns of unidentified origins. These mysterious cries from the ocean deep are familiar however to Dr. Archer and the snapshot of memory that it evokes is yet another layer on top of the deep labyrinth that has been slowly built as far back as 100,000 years ago from storytellers and prophets of the hidden contents within the Wake.
The creator of American Vampire, current writer for Batman (the most consistently solid book over at the New 52 these days) and writer for what will certainly be one of the bigger books this summer, Superman Unchained, returns to the creator-owned side of comics with the first issue of a ten issue mini series. Scott Snyder has recently been catapulted to the peek of attention over at DC for writing extraordinarily engaging, frightening, substantial, unique, exciting and vastly appealing stories that continue to captivate all fans of the medium. He has come to the point of being amongst creators like Jonathan Hickman or Grant Morrison where if his name is featured on the cover, most would consider the title an instant buy. His adept handle of characters and story make him one of the gems amongst the comic’s industry. The first issue of Wake is simply another example of why the writer deserves such high praise.
Weaving layers of mystery and intrigue upon horror tropes inside a dystopian world, The Wake, much like Synder’s previous Image title Severed, has an aura of unease to it. We are presented with quick peeks into the distant future and even more distant past dropping clues and laying track for what is to come in the story of Dr. Archer and ultimately the human race. The questions that are risen are many but the nature of the unknown is one that sucks you in and instantly sinks its hooks into you in anticipation for the next installment.
A great writer in comics is nothing without a great artist and Punk Rock Jesus creator, Sean Murphy, makes an eerie tale an absolutely gorgeous and haunting experience from start to finish. The prologue chapter featuring the first taste of the horrific beast to come from the Wake is a terrifying quick take of a city being swept away while its end creeps up from the deep, enormous and devastating. Character designs and development in the meat of the comic is great work from the artist on other favorites from Vertigo like Hellblazer: City of Demons, Joe The Barbarian and another previous collaboration with Snyder in American Vampire: Survival of the Fittest. His style is displayed in mostly two page layouts that pack the book full of story, action and interesting landscapes. A page featuring a submarine as it descends towards a deep sea base camp is an incredible moment as its look into the depths and fills the reader with chills and anxiety. Violence in the book is shocking and a reveal towards the end gives you that perfect wave of dread you want out of a horror story.
Scott Snyder and Sean Murphy make for a perfect team on a story that surely has many more twists along the way and will be a must read title from Vertigo Comics in 2013 and onward. The first issue is filled with scares, impending doom, instantly relatable characters and amazing artwork that you have come to expect from the creative team.
It’s really great to see a new wave of titles from the line that got me into comics to begin with as over the recent months besides the Unwritten and Fables, Vertigo had seen the cancellation of several of their titles, including the longstanding Hellblazer flagship, and the state of the imprint was looking grim. I’m happy to say that beginning with the Wake, a slew of incredible titles including brilliant works such as Astro City from Kurt Busiek, a new series from Sweet Tooth creator Jeff Lemire with Trillium, a return to classic stomping grounds with 100 Bullets: Brother Lono from Azzarello and Risso and another brand new ongoing from Exterminators writer Simon Oliver with Collider, Vertigo looks to be back and strong as ever.
Rob Neil Gruszecki is a writer, musician, podcaster and Wednesday Warrior
Dear Ghost Factory. What Should I Read? Comic Reviews & Weekly Comics Round-Up Podcast at www.Geekstampede.com