Dr. Gabrielle Parker and Dr. Michael Page are leading a team of archeologists, investors, and shareholders on an expedition into the mysterious Sable Island Treasure Pit off the coast of Nova Scotia. Sable Island, known as the “Graveyard of the North Atlantic” holds many sunken secrets. While Parker and Page are hoping to discover lost or shipwrecked treasure, they are also searching for answers to questions beyond the monetary gains they might make. They’re investigating a mystery of global proportions that ranges from the Great Pyramids of Egypt to archeological digs in Argentina, and a part of the answer they stumble upon may just lead them to more questions whose answers lie beyond our mortal realm…
Intelligent, well constructed, and detailed deep sea archeological mystery, intrigue, and action laced with supernatural elements characterize this well paced and character driven adventure/horror mini series. The Vault is shaping up to be yet another in a long list of brilliant comics being published by Image Comics right now. While the art is spectacular, it is writer Sam Sarkar’s suspense laden and incredibly realistic pacing and dialogue that drive the story. He takes time to establish the characters of his drama from Doctors Parker and Page to the mysterious Russian investor Kirilov, whose money and technology is desperately needed by Parker, Page and their team to complete their under investigation and dig. The tantalizingly sparse clues that Sarkar drops as to the nature of the supernatural find that the team comes across, including a huge and beautifully drawn two page spread depicting an incredible image of religious and philosophical laden supernatural history, are what drives the underlying tension and plot of this tale. While something supernatural is stirring though, Sarkar avoids devolving into basic horror or fantasy fare by maintaining a highly realistic story surrounding the nuts and bolts of the team’s dig, dive, equipment, weather problems, and economic constraints. Beyond the two page spread mentioned above, and another tantalizingly enticing image on the final page of issue #1, The Vault reads like a more interesting update of James Cameron’s The Abyss (1989) with occult intrigues rather than extraterrestrial ones.
Garrie Gastonny’s artwork dances easily between unique and striking depictions of supernatural warfare, giant Humbolt Squids, high tech diving gear, and realistic looking underwater action. Proportion, anatomy, realistic representations of real world tech, and unique interpretations of the rather typical angel vs. demon warfare are all strikingly rendered. Each panel, and there are more than we usually see in most contemporary comics, is loaded with detail and nuance. It is Sakti Yuwono’s colors though that really brings Gastonny’s work to life. Yuwono’s masterful manipulation of, ironically, the absence of color needed to create the near photographic looking underwater diving lights and their reflections off of various underwater elements is really beautiful.
Overall, The Vault reads like an excellent mixture of Dan Brown, Clive Cussler, and intelligent supernatural horror brought to excellent life in sequential art form. Chock up another win for Image Comics and, more importantly, their readers.