It’s certainly a good time to be Rick Remender. In addition to his work at Marvel, the man’s got two different ongoings at Image Comics, Black Science and Deadly Class, and is launching a third. In the letter’s column of Black Science #1, Remender talks openly about how he lost his job, his house, his girlfriend, his car, and even his dog in pursuit of his dream as a comic book writer. Seeing him be so successful brings joy to my cold, cynical heart and reminds me the power that fiction has to change someone’s life isn’t reserved just for consumers, but for creators as well.
I’m something of a recent Rick Remender convert myself. I only read the first issue of Black Science just a few months before the writing of this review, but that’s all it took. I quickly scarfed down both Black Science and Deadly Class inside of a week. I loved his creativity and energy, and I especially loved the incredible artists he teams up with to produce these gems. So when Low, yet another Remender project coming out of Image, was announced, you could say my interest was more than a little piqued. Which is why it saddens me to write anything less than a glowing review for this book. I didn’t want to like Low; I wanted to LOVE it. But instead we have a middling debut for a much anticipated comic.
Low is a tale as old as time. Woman loves man, woman marries man, woman and man race to find a hospitable planet to habitate because Earth is set to be engulfed by a rapidly expanding sun. They really don’t make ‘em like this one anymore. Because of the radiation cocktail that’s cooking up Earth’s surface, the last of humanity built cities at the bottom of the ocean to protect themselves and have stayed there for tens of thousands of years. Unfortunately time is running out for the Stel, her family, and the citizens of Salus.
Greg Tocchini’s art was set to be one of the big draws for this comic, but I’m sorry to say that it’s probably the comic’s weakest component. The painted pages are very impressionistic. You always get a sense of what Tocchini was going for and there’s definitely a light, floaty feeling to the characters and environments that work well for a comic set under water. However, the panels almost read better from far away because the moment I tried to really deconstruct the panels that they started to look confused and cluttered. Backgrounds are a bit messy and unclear and colors often run into each other. Maybe it’s personal preference, or maybe it’s a problem with the coloring, but I feel like this art style might not fit with the book as well as Remender thought.
The writing fairs better. Remender lays on exposition a little thick in the first half, but he also establishes a very fun character dynamic between Stol, her husband, and their three kids. The son Marik takes after the more philosophical and forward-thinking Stol, while their two daughters, Tajo and Della, take after the more single-minded Johl. The second half is where the proceedings get a much needed shove as our family is attacked by a band of undersea pirates with some great character designs and interesting motivation. And one thing’s for sure: Remender hasn’t forgotten how to write a really solid cliffhanger.
It may sound like I’m being harsh on Low #1 and while I did have a few issues with the pacing and the art, I still enjoyed it as a whole and will definitely be picking up the second installment, mostly because of my faith in Remender’s indie work. I just wish this book had the same fantastic opening issues as some of his other series.