The Wake’s song is an eerie one, intriguing you as it also makes you more than a little uneasy. And, that’s just how Snyder’s characters feel. We meet Dr. Lee Archer, a cetologist (a marine mammal scientist who specifically studies whales, dolphins, and porpoises – Don’t worry, I had to look it up, too.), communing with whales, and throughout the issue bits and pieces of her past are revealed. It seems Archer has fallen out of favor with her previous employer, NOAA (the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association – I looked that one up, too.), and also with the Department of Homeland Security, from which an Agent Cruz appears to offer her a proposition: Come to a facility in Prudhoe, Alaska, to study a strange whale song, and he will reinstate her with NOAA and, more importantly, get her back her son, Parker.
If I say much more, I’ll be giving away some great surprises. Needless to say, Archer takes Cruz up on his offer, and we are off on a high-tech, deep-sea adventure, and neither us nor Archer is ready for what is waiting for her deep beneath the ice in Alaska.
Snyder and Murphy co-created The Wake and have set it up as a 10-issue Vertigo series, which leads me to believe they have a mysterious, complex, and engaging story to tell, with more than a few surprises along the way. This first issue, while introducing us to the main cast of characters and laying the groundwork for the story (I imagine this groundwork is just the beginning, given its scope.), is an entirely compelling read and leaves you wanting more, right away.
Snyder’s writing has a slow burn, revealing details about the characters and story here and there, and always in relation to the action. The pace is quick and the tone serious, and both are matched by Murphy’s thin, sharp-lined, realistic art. Hollingsworth’s colors are perfectly muted and bring out the best in each of the locations; a gorgeous, full-page spread of a sunset takes your breath away, and once the story moves underwater, there is a cold blue over everything that lets you feel the depth of the ocean around them.
The panel placements are varied, and no two pages look exactly alike, something I enjoyed, yet never at the expense of the story. The Wake exists in a world of deep shadow and is bookended with mysterious future and past scenes, which start to build a mythology right out of the gate. If you feel the technical jargon will be too much for you, let me assure you it isn’t. I fully understood and enjoyed the story without looking anything up (until I wrote this review), and they explain what you need to know, and much of what isn’t you figure out during the issue.
The Wake is a song equal parts mystery, science, and horror and one I will be listening to until the end. And then, listen to again.