By Matt Spector
Science and mythology collide under the sea in Vertigo Comic's apocalyptic epic, The Wake. Created by Scott Snyder (Batman) and Sean Murphy (Punk Rock Jesus), this Eisner Award winning miniseries is as smartly written as it is beautiful to look at. Here are the top five spoiler-filled reasons you should be reading The Wake.
1.) Scott Snyder wrote it.
Snyder started writing comics for Marvel Comics in 2009 until Vertigo published his first ongoing creator owned series American Vampire, earning him both a Harvey and Eisner Award for Best New Series in 2011. DC Comics snatched him up soon after that, entrusting him with two of their most beloved franchises, Detective Comics and Batman, for their New 52 launch. At the helm of Batman, Snyder crafted masterful year long story arcs such as Court of Owls, Death of the Family, and Year Zero that will forever be used to define the Batman character. Outside of Gotham City, Snyder has tackled The New 52 Swamp Thing title and has teamed up with legendary comic book artist Jim Lee for the Superman: Unchained miniseries. Snyder's track record of handling big characters with canon shaping story lines has been repeatedly proven despite his short comics career.
2.) It's two stories for the price of one.
Part One is a monster filled thrill ride following a motley crew of marine experts centered around heroine Dr. Lee Archer. The team was assembled in a secret underwater drilling station where the U.S. government have captured an unknown sea creature in order to learn more about it, which is all well and good as long as the mer-creature stays contained. When it breaks free, the story turns into a gripping page turner that is impossible to put down as everything goes from bad to worse to catastrophic for our small band of researchers. This is horror at its best that (spoilers) isn't afraid to kill off its entire cast of characters.
Part Two takes place in the aftermath of Part One, but 200 years later. Bested summed up as Waterworld done correctly, Part Two follows a young woman named Leeward as she navigates a treacherous and soaked post-apocalyptic world, trying to sell mer-heads on the black market and stay one step ahead of The Arm. If Part One is a horror masterpiece, then Part Two is a fun science fiction romp with sonic dolphins and pirates with drone parrots.
3.) The artwork is gorgeous.
Sean Murphy's art really shines in this book in both the murky depths of Part One to the bright and colorful futuristic Part Two. Murphy has collaborated with Snyder before on another Vertigo miniseries, American Vampire: Survival of the Fittest and thankfully they have reunited again. The Wake is a feast for the eyes with a slew of awe inspiring full and multi-page panels with stunning coloring throughout. It's no surprise that Murphy won the 2014 Eisner Award for Best Artist/Penciller/Inker for his work on this title. He co-created the newly released Image Comics title Chrononauts, a bromance throughout time, which is also worth checking out.
4.) Who needs zombies when you have mermaids?
Every good story needs a worthy adversary and this is where the "mers" come into play. Not only are they faster and stronger than us measly humans, but they shoot hallucinations at their prey to help make them that much easier to kill. Just imagine being trapped a mile under the ocean, in a secret oil rig flooding with water, and being stalked by a giant humanoid fish creature determined to eat you. Now try to survive while tripping balls. Terrifying.
5.) It's only 10 issues long.
The nice thing about a miniseries is that they are easy to both start and finish. The Wake is paced similar to that of a roller coaster. In the beginning the story builds slowly until it peaks and plunges forward at breakneck speed. There isn't time for long complicated back story or involved character history, just enough to justify the action and to keep it moving. The amount that gets accomplished it so few issues results in a very satisfying read that's only downside is that you are left wanting more.
This Vertigo series is also out in collected trade right now.
Matt Spector is a writer and reviewer. His favorite comic book publisher is Image Comics. He lives in Long Beach, CA with his long time girlfriend and has been known to suffer from fits of nerd rage.