The Wake, by Scott Snyder, Sean Murphy. (DC Vertigo 2014)
2014 Eisner award winner for best limited series, this is a story in two parts. In the first half of the book a team of scientists assemble to a secret undersea drilling rig with the charge to analyze a startling discovery: a new species of intelligent sea-dwelling creature. One has been recently captured, and has been sending out a signal: to whom, for what purpose? Horror results when the call receives an overwhelming response.
In part two we see a near future dystopia akin to Water World or The Road Warrior, where the remnant populations of humanity dredge a living from the drowned wreckage of our former cities: now destroyed after the ice caps were melted in an act of war by a relentless opponent.
The writing is energetic and even frantic in the first half, borrowing pacing and tone from familiar sources (the Aliens franchise, for instance). The second half has less urgency, with somewhat more exposition than action, but as a world-building exercise it’s interesting enough, with plausible new lingo and culture that evolved from the flotsam and jetsam of our drowned civilization.
The art is solid. Matching the urgency of the first half plot, and welcoming the challenge of drawing a sinuous and malefic race of enemies in the depths away from sunlight. Characters are easily distinguished from each other, the action is smooth and clear. Matt Hollingsworth’s colors are surprising, giving a warmth to the story that makes the images friendly to the eye. He works with a pastel palette reminiscent of Barry Windsor Smith, yet somehow warmer, more sunbleached than ethereal.
Brief hallucinations of nudity promote this book to our adult side.