Review of The Wake #1
We've seen the primitive world, the future, and the not-so-distant future in The Wake's first issue. Scott Snyder has incorporated all three into his 10-part comic series via multiple parts within each issue, and though these elements were sort of left to their own devices in the premiere, Snyder begins to flesh out most of these time warps in issue #2. The Wake seems complex combining all of these timelines together, and it's true that Snyder might be stretching the series thin trying to get everything to adhere within ten short issues, but in this issue he's giving us glimpses of where the series is headed.
Dr. Archer is still deep undersea and working with a bunch of scientists to determine what exactly the monstrous, violent thing in the glass tube is, and issue #2 doesn't really move much from there. Actually, it picks up directly from where the last issue left off, and for the most part contains a lot of exposition about how the Department of Homeland Security came to discover this beast in the depths. Apparently they stumbled upon it by accident, then captured it after it attacked one of their workers, and they've been housing it for a couple of days. They called the scientists down to try to figure out what it is, and Dr. Archer has been designated the leader of the group because she's dealt with this kind of thing before and seems to understand its calls.
Snyder makes interesting references to myths and lore; the monster is part of the raindrop effect, a real-life being that inspired myths like sirens and mermaids. The Wake resembles a lot of other movies and stories about wild sea life, and it's nice to see that Snyder draws attention to that with reference to the myths that inspired his story.
And those references to early primitive life are starting to make a little bit more sense now that Dr. Archer explains her theories about the sea monster: she believes they are actually an early form of the human race that sought the darkness of the deep sea instead of evolving into land animals. So the scenes in which we see early humans attacking sharks in the sea now don't seem so distanced from the A-plot, but an extension of it.
The future scenes, however, are brushed off in this issue. We get a quick one-page glimpse of them, but it's not enough to justify it yet. The same is true of the characterization of the other scientists; they seem to be an important part of The Wake, yet they haven't played much of a role yet and it's hard to distinguish one from the other.
There's not too much action in this issue, but it seems Snyder is working towards a bloody encounter with the beast itself since it escapes in the final frames, crafting an illusion to trick unwary people. The exposition is necessary, but I would argue that Snyder doesn't cover it in the deftest of manners.
However, Sean Murphy's panels are as sharp as ever, and the multiple use of color throughout the different eras and the full-page layouts work very well for this comic. The Wake often requires larger panels and using a left-to-right double page allows Murphy to include all of the details he needs to make the beast grotesque and menacing.
The Wake's leaving an interesting trail behind it is it continues towards its finale. Snyder has some work to do before the multiple characters begin to seem lifelike, and weaving the three different time periods together is still somewhat problematic. But what excels is the storyline set in the "present" of the comic; he sets up an ancient being that has influenced the myths of our ancestors, and that is what generates the most important aspect of the series. The Wake's siren call is slowly sucking me in.
Thanks to Vertigo for supplying review copy