Scott Snyder is easily the most high profile writer at DC Comics these days. His stints on Detective Comics and Batman have reinvigorated the Batman line for DC Comics, and his American Vampire series, for the diminishing DC Comics imprint Vertigo, helps to keep the imprint afloat (alongside Bill Willingham's Fables). Sean Murphy just wrote, drew, and wrapped up one of the most interesting Vertigo Comics mini-series in years: Punk Rock Jesus. Although both authors/artists have had their hits and misses (albeit many more hits than misses), they are easily two of the most dynamic creators in comics right now. DC Comics is incredibly lucky to have them on board. A collaboration between the two for Vertigo Comics (which it appears the company is determined to keep alive despite its recent flops and departure of long time executive editor Karen Berger) is a no-brainer. The Wake #1 hit the shelves last week. Did it live up to the hype?
Without giving too much away, The Wake #1 is the opening chapter of a sci-fi/deep sea adventure that vaguely alliterates with the recent Animal Planet faux documentaries on mermaids (Mermaids: The Body Found and Mermaids: The New Evidence, which hundreds-hopefully not millions-are dumb enough to believe are real documentaries), and mixes in the kind of eerie horror that emanates from smart fiction on the real life mysteries of the deep.
Centering around a main character named Dr. Lee Archer, a Cetological Vocalization Specialist, who is recruited by a shadowy agent of the Department of Homeland Security to join a team of other specialists (including a professor from Brown University who is an expert on folklore and mythology) to study a strange new sound that has resonated from the deep ocean (much like the above referenced-via hyperlink-"Bloop"). She quickly realizes that there is much more to this strange, most definitely organic, oceanic sound. In smart prologue and postscript chapters, Snyder gives his main narrative some historical context by scripting cryptic events that occur 200 years after and 100,000 years before the main events therein.
Sean Murphy's hyperactively lined artwork brings this mash up of the Creature from The Black Lagoon (1954) meets Lady in The Water (2006) to haunting life. The wide open spaces in his panels really help convey the cold and dark mysteries of the oceanic depths. Conversely, his characters pop with warm life, and he brings the horror aspects of The Wake #1 to a subtly unnerving life. Also, his work is presented in color this time, with Matt Hollingsworth's aquamarine hues and slate grays of the underwater base and submarine, where much of the action takes place, washing the whole affair in a beautifully chilling atmosphere.
While not outstandingly original, Snyder and Murphy's The Wakeis outstandingly beautiful, mysterious, and (most importantly for Vertigo Comics) worth returning to. It is something that fans of Snyder, Murphy, and Vertigo Comics have been looking for. We are only on issue #1 of The Wake and I'm already looking forward to their next, post-The Wake collaboration for (hopefully) Vertigo Comics.