The opening of this book has writer Rick Remender saying that he felt challenged to write a hero who is always the optimist, no matter the obstacles. Mission accomplished here but I wonder if the person who threw down that gauntlet is happy with the results. Low features some of the darkest turns any hero has had to push through while keeping their own faith.
Low is written by Remender and Greg Tocchini provides the art. It is a comic experience unlike anything on this continent.
Low is the story of the far flung future, all the way to the near end. The sun has grown to such a size and heat that mankind must take refuge in the oceans in order to survive. Millenia from now every part of the world has changed to adapt. Not only is mankind in the oceans but all manner of technology, transportation and apparel has changed to work in the fathoms. Not just for humans, but for all creatures. Those mysterious fish we currently see briefly in the deep have become the norm in this world and when our oddities are the norm the new unknowns become even stranger.
Inside this world marked for death the best and brightest tried looking for another habitable world. And failed. In a time when fact becomes doubted legend there is hope. A beacon has returned. One family must risk everything and its matriarch and our lead, Stel Caine, risks even more than that in order to keep humanity alive just a little longer.
The art for this book is insane. Its an eye opener into two worlds. First of course is the world of Low. Everything familiar with our world has changed. As long as we have been out of the sea, these people have been right back into it. The architecture and clothing and more are all influenced by the oceans and its creatures. The technology is thoroughly advanced from our time but in the most Kirby of influences, every single knob and dial makes sense. Nothing about this world should seem familiar yet the rules are set down with such detail there is no other option but to embrace them.
Second is Tocchini opening up the eyes of Americans to art from other countries. This art style reminded me of 2000 AD and Heavy Metal. The line work, the coloring, the panel layouts are all vastly different from the super hero tropes we’re all used to but completely engrossing. Every page is such a unique beauty it demands to be studied at length and that is when the true art shines through. Discovering the perfect line, the subtle color. All the nuances elevate the work into a powerful whole.
While the art elevates the writing puts the reader constantly off balance. Stel gets every single bad thing imaginable, and some not, thrown at her and still wont give up. While I want her misery to end I also leap forward at every page hoping that my forward momentum will maybe transmit through and help her forward. The book hurts at times. You cant believe something else has happened. But then it comes, again and again, and she wont stop. If this was a wrestling match Good Ol’ JR would be begging someone to “stop the damn match!”
Remender isn’t stopping for anyone. He’s proving a point. How could a character keep going in these horrible worlds comic creators have made. Years, decades for some, of abuse would leave even the best broken and jaded. Putting on the tights one leg at a time every night because its the right thing to do yet deep down wondering if any of it even matters. Stel Caine never waivers her convictions. She is that bright shining light, that voice of change, and if she gives up for just one moment everything falls apart. Its an incredible burden for one person and somehow she continues right up to the last page.
Of volume one.
You gotta be kidding me. Rick, stop the damn match. Let her be.
And tell me when volume two starts.