The Wake: Part Two
Under the ocean off the south slope of Alaska, a seafloor oil drilling rig houses an ancient secret in a containment tank. For now, a predator is restrained, and a team of experts study it, and speculate on this creatures origins. While they discuss where the creature came from, and how it fits into folklore and mythology, The comic book jumps along a timeline – the distant past, the distant future, and back to the present.
Eventually, we see each team member retire to rest for the night. As they sit up late, attending to their studies, vivid hallucinations begin. Dr. Lee Archer listens to the call of the creature, which is similar to whale song. She makes a breakthrough, analysing and scrutinising the sound, and then confronts an unexpected visitor.
The artwork is typically moody and shadowed evoking a solid, horror atmosphere. It’s what a reader would expect from a horror comic. Vertigo comics aim to defy conventions, however, and what makes the art original is the blend of light and dark.
During hallucination scenes, a fecund garden springs to life complete with flowers and summer sunlight. While the folklorist from Brown University recounts the mythology of mermaids and sirens, statues, artworks, and epic images appear around him, bringing his words to life in a gold light.
In the distant past, there’s a scene of intense battle steeped in blood and salt water. It’s definitely for mature readers. The scene has a stunning depiction of a giant shark captured in a great sequence of panels.
Dr Lee Archer has a tormented past. She dose not reveal anything to the other characters. The more insightful cast members guess, based on her silence and harsh body language, that she is thinking darkly. We see her thoughts played out and there is a sense of dread in the artwork. The comic panels slide under the water as she does. There’s only a glimpse of what she’s seen under the surface.
Leonard “Meeks” Meeker is a poacher who captures endangered sea life, and designs elaborate traps for deep sea creatures. He’s unapologetic for his poaching, and offers to kill the creature if necessary.
Themes, Ethics, Values.
The damage caused by high intensity sound, and the threat of species extinction brought on by poaching are referenced. The comic raises awareness of these problems. Dr. Lee criticises her boss for his role in a project which used high frequency sound as a defense, and resulted in the death of several marine mammals.
This project, the S-net, is similar to a Navy project that caused the beaching of whales near the Bahamas in 2000. The National Resources Defense Council outlines that the sound intensity – over 140 decibels – was too powerful for the marine mammals in the area. The result of the test was the whale beaching. The whales had significant tissue damage to their eyes and ears.
Dr. Archer also critical of Meeks for his role in pushing species closer to extinction. The World Wildlife Federation has advocated for the protection of endangered marine species – particularly turtles and whales. As a scientists who works with whales, it makes sense for her character to be critical of his illegal poaching.
A Bit more on The Wake #2
Another science fiction scene appears at the end of the issue – the Apollo 11 landing module on the Lunar surface. The Earth’s moon, which influence the ocean’s tides, is in trouble. Another layer of mystery is introduced, leaving a cliffhanger ending. A strong horror comic book, with select science fiction themes.
The Wake #2 is published by Vertigo Comics. Writer: Scott Snyder. Artists: Sean Murphy Colourist. Matt Hollingsworth. Letterer: Jared K. Fletcher.