Herman Melville’s 1851 classic and epic novel, Moby Dick, painstakingly details the whaling industry alongside the sea travels of an ill-fated crew. The white whale is a formidable source of intrigue and motivation whose sheer existence incites a dangerous journey into the deep. Even if you have not trucked your way through the massive novel, you know that Moby Dick is a destructive force whose massive size illustrates how small man is and how hard it is to combat an animal who rules the sea. Moby Dick: Back from the Deep’s creator and writer Matt Schorr uses Melville’s tale and its legacy as inspiration for another intense adventure, where the white whale rules the sea, and no one is safe.
We plunge right in with the Prologue which illustrates the outline of a huge whale emerging from the depths of the ocean and the death of an innocent young woman that follows. Schorr and artist Joe Bilicic show the danger and threat of the whale early on so the readers know that he is back, and they can eagerly anticipate an exciting, nail-biting adventure to follow. We expect violence and tragedy, as man vs. beast will have to battle once again.
Chapter 1 contains local politics that create tensions between prominent members of the town. We are introduced to the key players of the tale and start to develop a sense of the community. It is a smooth read, and then suddenly, there is a shocking moment. My mouth dropped open, and some nervous laughter escaped me. This is what a good, exciting reading experience is all about—those moments that catch you off guard and make you go bug-eyed. Now, I feel like I’m on the edge of my seat, searching the ocean for where the whale will emerge next. Schorr is a brilliant storyteller, pacing the exposition and action perfectly. Bilicic creates a calming landscape on one page followed by terrifying action on the next. They are a perfect team.
Back from the Deep works so well in black and white, because Melville’s original story, while exciting, is also bleak and illustrative of desperation. Schorr captures this feel on every page of Back from the Deep. The lines and shadows create an atmosphere of tense wonder which perfectly pays homage to the source material. Reading this work feels like I’m taking a trip into an art gallery. The splash page that provides a view of the town and the water behind it is a stunning work of art. It beautifully brings land and sea together and reminds us how close people live to expansive waters that may appear peaceful but contain terrors under the surface.
Schorr and Bilicic succeed in creating a truly captivating first chapter. The final page honors Melville’s epic tale while making the readers eager to embark on Chapter 2. The adventure is just beginning, and there will certainly be danger, excitement, and action up ahead.
Creative Team: Matt Schorr (creator and writer) and Joe Bilicic (artist)
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