Review: The Wake #1

I kind of forgot about this book last week, but took a moment to read it once I caught up with titles this week. There’s nothing about it that felt distinctly “Vertigo” and I question if the series would have been published under the banner with the old editorial or found a home with Image. Though I’m sure at this point DC is going to do everything it can to keep Snyder publishing his work in-house. I’m going to be up front and say that a lot of it came across like the first story arc of Aquaman, but without superheroes. I’m riding the fence with this series so let’s see how it turns out. The story is broken into four chapters and the first “The Quest” is some time in the future. We follow a woman hang-gliding over a city that is completely flooded. She lands and touches base with her color coordinated dolphin. Our time with her is cut short when a huge wave suddenly appears and she’s sent running… flying away.

The second chapter “The Call” takes us 200 years in the past, but still technically in the future, off the coast of Washington. A woman is hanging out on a boat feeding the wildlife and talking to her son. I say the future because I don’t have a wrist device with a picture screen that can make phone calls, do you? Her conversation is cut short when Homeland Security pays her a visit. The woman, Dr. Archer, meets with Astor Cruz; he plays a recording for her after a very long conversation about boats and how Archer was kicked out of NOAA. It’s obvious that she’s heard the sound before, but she plays stupid because she really doesn’t want to get involved with the government again because of all of the shit she’s been talking. Cruz tells her that he can get her son back for her, ie custody and that’s all it takes. Dr. Archer is on board with the false promise of being done in time to be back for her son’s visit.

the-wake-1There’s more of the story, but reading it wasn’t terribly interesting so I doubt recapping it will be either. The biggest problem with this story is that it has the formula of a disaster movie. We know shit is going to go down based on the opening and so it’s slow and painful to wait for it to happen. I’m assuming that Snyder is attempting to build the tension, but it doesn’t work. Like with all disaster movies, you suffer through the first ten minutes knowing the bad shit is coming and then you get to the bad shit because that’s why you’re there. People want to see the characters dealing with the bad shit not the lead up.

The characters are all a little too “on” for my liking. Dr. Archer is that funny, cool Doc that takes no shit and could be cool if she was so dude-ish. I’d like to say that she was a strong female character, but she came across as what a man thinks a strong female character is, which is a man with boobies. You know that agent that has all the answers, knows all the science behind everything and can tell a lie to get everything they want? That’s Cruz’s character. He works for homeland security and yet he’s working on a top-secret oil project in Alaska, but is knowledgeable enough to gather a team of learned individuals to study a mystery creature… not buying. If he’s smart enough to understand the artificial air system of the submarine, then does he really need a bunch of specialist to tell him about an unknown creature? Not likely.

The most ridiculous thing about the story was when Cruz divulges government secrets without having any of them sign a non-disclosure agreements. I’m sorry, but that would never happen. The only thing more ridiculous was the scene in which he introduces Archer to the rest of the team that she didn’t know about and how they discover that they were all told they would be studying something specific to their field of expertise to get them there.

The writing and story had glimpses of being good, but the concept and execution got in the way. I think that Synder is trying his hand at another thriller/horror story and that didn’t turn out very well last time. In a lot of ways this is just The Massive meets Aquaman.

The art is gorgeous and was hands down the best thing about the book. The character designs are great, especially Archer and Cruz. Archer has this crazy looking beard that reminds me of the style typically found in mangas. The coloring is all muted tones that matched the line work and the tone of the story very well. My only gripe was that there’s a ton of two page spreads. I read the book digitally and I don’t use guided views so it was quite annoying for me. Also there was nothing distinctly unique about the way the story went across the page so double spread was just kind of there. If was similar to the way Alex Meelev sets up his pages that would have been one thing, but it wasn’t.

I thought that talking about the issue would somehow help me decide if I liked it or not, but for once I’m still on the fence. It was actually pretty average and definitely overhyped for what was delivered. It’s not bad, but it’s far from great that’s for sure. The art might be enough to bring me back for at least another issue, but the story would have to deliver something other than dry conversations and dolphins in matching suits.

Score: 3/5

Writer: Scott Snyder

Artist: Sean Murphy

Publisher: Vertigo Comics

Price: $2.99

Release Date: 5/29/13