This could have been so cool. Navy SEALs, the most bad-ass group in the U.S. Navy, find themselves trying to stop a war between the United States and a bizarre group of undersea warriors. Can you ask for a better recipe for action and adventure? Set several square-jawed warriors against a group of very strange Atlanteans, mix in some mythological grandeur and American flag-waving and you get the recipe for a Hollywood summer blockbuster. Unfortunately, this graphic novel takes several detours down blind alleys that end up destroying the book’s potential.
The biggest problem is the big reveal of the cause of the conflict between humans and Atlanteans. I don’t want to give a spoiler, but the choice of villain seems very strange, an odd choice for the driving force behind a war. Worse still, despite the fact that this character spells out his reasons for fighting the war, it still doesn’t seem believable at all. His motivations seem too, well, comic-booky. Even the way he carries out his threat seems a bit too strained to really believe. Why go to such bizarre lengths to carry out such a large agenda?
The writing in the whole seems to cry out for another draft. There’s a massive invasion of the surface world, but there’s no real feeling of the turmoil that such an invasion would create. The United States-centered view of the world seems a bit bizarre and nationalistic in the book – if many countries around the world were invaded, why does only the U.S. Navy get involved? And where is the feeling of strangeness and grandeur around Atlantis, anyway? We get several interesting establishing shots of the city under the sea, but the scenes that take place there seem a bit muddled and dark, and completely lack the show-stopping beauty that such a place should have.
What’s most frustrating is that there are several terrific and intriguing scenes in the book. There’s a wonderful scene where SEALs Griffin and Jarvis argue after their plane gets shot down. Another nice scene shows a group of Atlantean warriors charging to the surface to attack the humans. And the general look of the Atlanteans is pretty cool. If only there were more of this stuff in the book, it would have been terrific.
But overall this is a disappointment. De La Torre’s art is okay, but as I mentioned, he doesn’t have a good sense of atmosphere in the story, and characters’ faces are fairly indistinct. But the real problem is M. Zachary Sherman’s writing. If only he had taken longer with the story, spent more time fleshing out his characters and situations, this would have been a real treat. Instead, unfortunately, it feels muddled.