Stel’s journey to the surface continues in issue 11 of Remender and Tocchini’s Low. In the previous arc we were finally reunited with the sisters Tajo and Della, who are now the main characters of this arc, and their plight. Once captured by pirates as children, they have now both escaped their captors and are on a journey to find their mother. The Caine family’s struggle to be reunited continues, as they all just barely miss one another. The pieces are finally all moving into place as Stel nears the surface and optimism is high for the completion of the Salusian nobles’ adventure. Just as Remender gives us hope, he will undoubtedly take it away, as the third and most exciting arc in this series gets under way! The idea of hope and optimism permeates this book to its core. Remender describes in the letter section of the last issue that despite some of the difficult subject matter he writes about in his other series, that writing Stel’s monologue was the hardest for him. Reading this book I always wonder what exactly is the inspiration for it. Not knowing too much about Remender himself, you kind of get the feeling that there are some deep-rooted fears with losing family or loved ones. Sure, most of Remender’s books focus on alienation, failure, fear of loss or being alone, but Low is really driven by these ideas to the extreme. I don’t think a single issue goes by where the characters don’t talk about their obsession with hope: hope of being reunited with family, hope of finding another planet to live on, hope of surviving.
Sometimes the discussion turns to why hope is bad, and how hoping too much can destroy you when the things you hoped for never come to pass. It’s an interesting discourse, and humanity in their final breaths is a perfect setting for this dialogue. I think that the constant struggle between hoping for a better future and admitting that it will never come is what makes this comic so powerful. It really boils down to pessimism versus optimism and both of those character traits are in constant flux throughout the series. The Caine family has to decide which side they want to win, do they succumb to the idea that they will never see one another again or do they keep on struggling to hold onto that hope that they’ve lived off of for so long?
This issue focuses on the relationship between Tajo and Della, and their return to Salus, their home. Once there they are confronted with a barrage of memories. Della wants nothing more than to move on and not be bogged down by nostalgia, while Tajo thinks it’s okay to slow down and remember the past. Once again we see this conflict of hope and memory against pessimism and forgetting. The two sisters aren’t at odds entirely in this issue, but there is definitely the beginnings of some conflict. In their old home they run into their brother’s ex-wife who is willing to come with them and escape the dying city of Salus. This issue was a good entryway into the dynamic between Tajo and Della, showcasing their different characters, and giving a little foreshadowing into where this arc will go.
I focused a lot on the story and themes of this issue but should mention that Tocchini’s art is really reaching new boundaries here. I’ve always thought that his splash pages have been the best part of his work, and his character work was sometimes a little shaky, but eleven issues in and his work has really grown.
Low #11 Written by: Rick Remender Art by: Greg Tocchini Publisher: Image Comics Price: $3.99 Release Date: 2/10/16 Format: Ongoing; Print/Digital