Monday, 4 August 2014

The Wake Part Two Review (Scott Snyder, Sean Murphy)

If the first part of The Wake was Scott Snyder’s version of The Abyss, the second part is his take on Waterworld. 

Set 200 years after the events of Part One, the world is now a different place thanks to the fish monsters melting the polar icecaps. Water has flooded the lowest landmasses and humanity survives in loose, scavenger-type camps. 

Leeward, who we glimpsed here and there in Part One, is now the main character. She’s a fish monster head hunter (literally) with her glider and her trusty dolphin Dash. But she’s searching for a voice on the airwaves - someone called Lee Archer - who could hold the answer to saving the world. 

I am a massive Scott Snyder fan, though mostly for his work on Batman. I have given The Wake my full attention though it hasn’t impressed me much with the first part turning out to be just ok. The second part though, which I expected to be even better for some reason, is a real let down. You could even say it’s a mess! 

Leeward’s journey is always obscure and difficult to follow. She muddles along from one strange scenario to the next - she turns on a radio and is chased by this world’s authorities because radio’s are bad?, then she’s in a slave ship, then she’s with pirates, then in the arctic (I thought all the ice melted?), then… I won’t spoil it, but it’s basically Snyder rushing his character from one thing to the next without giving sufficient reason to the reader why. And without knowing why, it’s difficult to care about what’s happening. 

Snyder’s world-building isn’t very convincing either. The various colonies feel disparate and isolated but there’s apparently some kind of ruling body with a crazy old woman in charge - it just doesn’t seem like it would work. Again, this felt rushed and not very cohesive, like it was thrown together. And none of the characters felt fleshed out - Vivienne, Marlow, Mary, they were all cliches. Vivienne the scheming person in charge, Marlow the military tough, and Mary was the pirate captain who was defined by his action of sipping from his arm glass. They weren’t characters at all. 

But by far the worst is the final issue of the mini-series which was just one long exposition filled info dump. Snyder likes to throw in random scenes and WTF moments for the reader - he does it in all of his comics - which is sometimes effective and works well in Batman, but not in The Wake. He waits until the last issue to explain why there were scenes of cavemen interacting with fish monsters, why there was what looked like the moon exploding earlier in the series, what the drop is, why… well, that’d be a spoiler, so I’ll stop there. But basically he tried to do too much in this series, left it far too late to explain everything and it felt like it all overwhelmed him by the end. He tried to make all the random pieces fit and he just couldn’t. 

I don’t love Sean Murphy’s art like some people - it feels too scratchy and his character models are more-or-less the same in every book - but it’s not terrible and he can draw scale really well. Some of the scenes call for the cast to be affected by massive creatures/vehicles, and Murphy’s able to pull off that effect nicely. And Andrew Robinson’s covers have been excellent throughout the series too. 

The Wake has been a very patchy sci-fi horror story that completely falls apart in the last couple issues, so much so that the last page could be seen as Snyder shrugging and saying to the reader “well, you enjoyed the ride didn’t you? Sorry about dropping the ball for the finale!”. 

The Wake is definitely my least favourite Snyder book and about the only one I’d say is quite poor. Disappointing.

The Wake

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