I was not the world’s biggest fan of Low #1, and no one will accuse me of loving issue 2, but I do think the series might have launched on a misstep towards finding a groove. The issue opens ten years after the events of last issue, which is jarring, but not because it’s a time jump. It’s jarring because essentially the first scene you’re shown after the issue begins is a Roman centurion just straight up giving it to a naked woman in an ancient Roman ruin. This isn’t problematic in terms of the story so much as it’s just a shock to the system to those of us who are still trying to figure out what kind of world this series lives in. The action moves back and forth between the mother, Stel, and her son, Marik, who survived the ending of the last issue ten years ago, which is also flashed back to several times this month. The issue ends on a hopeful note for humanity itself, and a dark note for the characters. It’s well put together, it just doesn’t quite sizzle.
The issue itself starts off poorly, as the series did, giving us a jarring series of transitions and a lot of strange action before it settles into a nice narrative thread. The full-page splash of the Centurion going to town on a prostitute makes sense to the character who’s enacting it, it’s just... it didn’t seem like that was the kind of series this was going to be. But after last month’s extended nude expository dump and this month’s horrible treatment of prostitutes, it’s troubling to say the least, and not narratively necessary, to say the most. I don’t want to seem like I’m turning into (have always been?) some sort of Remender uber-hater, because I have liked books of his in the past. It’s why I keep going back to his series, like this, or Deadly Class or Fear Agent, hoping to find what worked well in the past. My biggest beef with this issue is honestly that he seems to be trusting his artist a hell of a lot, and while Greg Tocchini is super talented, his sequential work continues to read extremely muddy.
There are artists who make extremely good cover artists by virtue of their style. Amongst them are the likes of Gabrielle Dell’Otto and Greg Tocchini; their painterly styles are visually beautiful, and their splash pages are things of majesty. It’s when you shrink them down into a regular panel size, it gets blurry and muddled and loses some of its fidelity. It’s a tragedy for the art itself, which looks fantastic, and it just doesn’t work in a smaller sequential style. This is especially true when the world they represent is murky and dark to start with, like Secret War or a book about living at the bottom of the ocean.
This series has promise to it. I won’t deny that I like the idea of a city that knows it will be gone in under a year if they don’t find someplace new. It’s the same kind of last-ditch effort I loved watching in Battlestar Galactica. I’m just not sure that Remender and Tocchini have fully figured out what they want to do yet.
Writer: Rick Remender Artist: Greg Tocchini Publisher: Image Comics Price: $3.50 Release Date: 8/27/14 Format: Print/Digital