There has been a growing trend in comic books that also double as movie pitches. Typically these are simple affairs with one or two concepts woven into the story and some of the characters drawn to resemble potential actors. It is rare that you want them to be made into a movie however. Scott Snyder’s The Wake is not such a movie pitch, but it’s cinematic pacing, engaging art and clever plot demands that a wider audience see it, and we expect the adaptation to end up in movie development hell sometime soon.
The plot is fairly complex. For a start, it’s told across three time zones; the pre-historic age, the present and the far future. The main, modern day story centres on marine biologist Dr. Lee Archer. She’s recruited by the American government to investigate a strange thing they found at the bottom of the ocean; a sentient, man/fish hybrid-like creature that they refer to as the Mer. Turns out these beings are pretty strong and have hallucinogenic venom. We also discover that the USA has been naughtily stealing oil from the Artic via a secret underground rig and Dr Lee and a team of misfits find themselves trapped inside this top-secret installation, surrounded by hostiles.
Meanwhile, in the future, a young woman and her cybernetic dolphin struggle to survive in a world that is mostly underwater. She is desperately seeking an edge, a secret, something that could help mankind survive the post-flood world. Snyder skilfully blends these strands together, and isn’t afraid to shock the reader throughout. The Wake is (appropriately for a story set in the ocean) very, very deep and filled with multiple layers. It isn’t quite as deep as the likes of The Watchmen, but it does get pretty close on occasion. The third strand, the pre-historic plot, is something that needs to be read, to be understood.
Sean Murphy’s art is quite frankly, amazing. It sells this deep and complex narrative extremely well and presents every scene in a breath-taking and cinematic way. Unsurprisingly, Murphy won an Eisner award for it, and you can see why. Gorgeous stuff, even when it is being gory and shocking.The Wake is a long and complicated book, starting out as a science-fiction thriller and then radically morphing into a solid post-apocalyptic adventure. Added to this mix is an interesting take on the alien conspiracy story. If you can only have one graphic novel this year, and you want it all, then you should pick this one.