Low #6 brings the first arc of Remender and Tocchini’s under-the-sea adventure to a conclusion, though not necessarily a satisfying one. The issue opens where 5 left off, with Marik betrayed in the gladiator ring, and Stel doing her usual crying and claiming “it wasn’t supposed to be this way!” Through a series of flashbacks to his childhood, we gather that Marik’s moral code and his ability to surmount incredible odds came from his father, and we’re supposed to forget that four issues and like, maybe a week in terms of story-time ago, he was a corrupt cop, and reveled in it. Eventually, Stel takes the fight to Grolm and her daughter, who basically doesn’t have a name and could just as well be “plot device in a bikini,” escapes to take over her father’s deep sea diver suit and bring vengeance to Roln.
There’s a lot that Low does right. It’s built a world really well, and it’s been populated with all kinds of wonky machinery and phenomenal technology. The downside is that it’s also populated with a lot of really wooden characterization and muddy coloring, in which a lot of the visual is lost. The book is kind of the comic book equivalent of a big event movie; it’s very pretty when the lighting is right, but it also doesn’t do much for you, emotionally. It’s a weird bastard child of Remender’s other creator-owned work. It doesn’t have the visual clarity and energy of Deadly Class and it doesn’t have the strong characters and emotional core of Black Science.
Remender and Tocchini can’t seem to decide what they want this series to be. Is it Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome Except Underwater? Is it a story of a family driving itself further and further apart to save the world? The saving-the-world part is almost set dressing at this point, a Maguffin and not really a source of character motivation. There’s not a whole lot of “why” to this story. Alongside that, Tocchini’s clarity of a couple issues ago is gone again in favor of muddy composition. If it were not for some linework and the occasional ink, some of his pages would just be a color wash/gradient of red. Like the diving suit and a major explosion are both things that should blow you away, but they just aren’t intelligible. It’s been said of Howard Chaykin that when readers didn’t understand his work after a few readings, he told them they should read it again. I’ll just say there’s a difference between presenting a challenging work of art and creating something where the pieces just don’t work together.
Obviously, there’s something I’m missing. This series has been popular since its launch (although, again, I would say not as popular as Black Science, or even Deadly Class), and it’s another in a line of titles by Remender that just don’t grab me. In general, I try to review by Goethe’s guidelines: What was the author trying to do; did they do it well; was it worth doing. At this point, I have to assume there’s another reviewer on our staff who gets this book, because it certainly isn’t me. I don’t have any more to say here that hasn’t been said before.
Low #6 Writer: Rick Remender Artist: Greg Tocchini Letterer: Rus Wooton Publisher: Image Comics Price: $3.50 Release Date: 2/25/15 Format: Ongoing; Print/Digital