The Wake #7 Review: The Retro-Future Beautifully Realised

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We are just a few issues away from the final issue in this run of The Wake.

I say This Run.

Because I hope that Snyder and Murphy are going to continue.

There is just too much still to discover.

I’ve a feeling issue 10 is going to end an an almighty cliff-hanger.

But back to issue seven.

This issue opens with a flashback of Leeward’s childhood.

Reminding us that even the most bad ass characters once wore dolphin socks.

And got scared.

Interestingly, we also get a rather more subtle flashback to Governor Vivienne’s childhood.

Collecting the bodies of dead birds.

Sliding down the enormous piles of their bodies.

Angry at the stupidity of their blind hope that a beacon would save them.

Which makes me think that there might be a real solution to the Mer problem.

But the people in power are concealing it.

After all a terrorised populace are easier to control.

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And that’s the great thing about this series so far.

Subtle storytelling.

Coupled with fantastic action.

Sean Murphy’s art is so dynamic, exciting and intriguing.

From the retro-fitted cruise liners to the design of the Arm uniforms.

Every detail is superbly realised.

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It is also a great example of retro-future in sci-fi storytelling.

Last night I went to the National Museums of Scotland Museum Lates event.

The theme was retro-future.

Which got me thinking about about this whole concept of the past in the sci-fi genre.

It happens a lot.

We imagine what the future is going to be like we turn to the past for inspiration.

Just a few examples:

Firefly – cowboys in space.

Tron Legacy – the 1980s in the future.

Blade Runner – the 1950s in the future.

The trick is to create a retro-future that still feels original.

That has enough to distinguish it.

In Firefly Joss Wheedon added Mandarin Chinese to the dialogue.

Allowing nerds worldwide to swear with impunity.

“Ching-wah TSAO duh liou mahng!”

The Wake stands out from the crowd with the terrifying Mers.

And with some very interesting pirates who we’ll be meeting in issue 8!

 

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How Sandman Changed the Face of Comics Publishing

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I first read Neil Gaiman’s Sandman comic series in 1996.

The year the series finished.

Over the years it has won a whole host of new fans.

Won a ton of awards including 26 Eisners.

But I hadn’t realised just how seminal this series was in terms of it’s impact on the comics industry.

Did you know?

Sandman was the first comic to be published in a collected edition.

Sandman was the first comic to be owned by a writer in the sense that when it ended it wasn’t passed to another writer to pick up the story a la Batman, Spiderman…

Sandman was one of the first comics that really attracted women to the genre en mass.

And how did Neil Gaiman achieve all of this?

By simply not knowing it was impossible to do these things.

Oh, and of course through years of hard work and incredible talent.

You can hear Neil Gaiman talk about allĀ things Sandman related in this video.

It is from the 2013 Edinburgh Book Festival’s Stripped Comics series of events.

I’ll be attending this year so look out for more news and reviews from the event come August.

And just for fun here is one of my favourite pieces of comics memorabilia.

Actually this is my only piece of comics memorabilia.

Neil Gaiman autograph

 

Comic Review: The Wake by Scott Snyder & Sean Murphy

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The Wake is a new 10 part comic series by American Vampire writer Scott Snyder and Hellblazer: City of demons artist Sean Murphy.

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I really loved this comic because of its ambition and scope. Snyder has woven a story out of sea myths, folklore and fable that comes crashing into reality with a terrifying discovery on the bottom of the ocean.

It’s epic in scale, part one takes us from 200 years in the future to Mars 3.8 billion years ago, takes a pit stop on the Great Plains at the turning point of human evolution 100,000 years ago before bringing us back to the present. Despite these broad strokes the story arc of the main character Dr Lee Archer is perfectly plotted so you get to know and care about her in a pretty short time.

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Believe me when I say this comic is best read with little or no knowledge of the story.

which makes it a little tough to review.

I really don’t want to spoil it for you.

So let me just give you a few basics that will let you know if this is for you or not.

Do you love the sound of an amazing sea-based sci-fi story that cleverly ties in real things like the inscription on a Sumerian tablet telling of the flood of Babylon with the Loneliest Whale in the World and the Aquatic Ape Theory?

Then this is for you.

I will also say that after reading this through for the first time I immediately re-read it. This almost never happens but it really is that well written and full of detail that it’s easy to miss first time round.

One last thing to say about The Wake is that the whole thing would fall flat without Sean Murphy’s amazing artistic treatment of water throughout. In an interview with ComicVine last year he said:

“It sounds kind of funny but water is like another character in this book. I looked at a lot of other comics and noticed a lot of people don’t draw water. They’ll just draw lines and the colourist just makes it blue. I really tried to figure out a new way to handle water, to draw an actual wave crashing, a tidal wave surging through a city, there’s all different ways that water works. I’m trying to learn about that.”

I’d say it’s working pretty amazingly well so far.

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