** SPOILERS. MS. RUINER IF YOU’RE NASTY **
Scott Snyder can write one hell of a thriller. The first two issues were full of suspense and surprisingly sincere character development, while The Wake #3 is all about the first in a series of horrible events set to transpire at the bottom of the ocean. Humanity knows more about space than we do about the depths of the ocean, and Snyder plays to our fear of the unknown spectacularly.
Scott Snyder and Sean Murphy are an incredible team. Murphy is able to perfectly convey all the tension and terror of being stuck miles under the ocean with a creature that has approximately ten different ways it can kill you without using any weapons. Murphy’s line-tastic style plays well with Snyder’s frantic tone and makes it even scarier.
The mermaid—because at this point there’s no better name for it—is one of the scariest enemies I’ve read in a long, long time, and it’s not even trying to enslave humanity, rip open the cosmos, or unleash a ravenous horde upon the stars. Snyder knows a simple fact: people fear the unknown. The mermaid is completely unknown and totally terrifying because of it. The characters in The Wake treat it like an animal, but even that assumption is just that: an assumption. They could be far more advanced than humans and these characters would have no idea.
I am one of those people scared by deep water (I often had my brother play through water levels in video games due to this fear of something coming at me from any angle), yet I found myself unable to stop reading. My heart was racing. I was actually scared because this is a scenario I’ve thought about before—being stuck in a base underwater as it fills with water as something hunts me—but I wanted to know what happens next. That’s the mark of good storytelling; when a person who typically abstains from a certain style cannot put that style of book down.
My only real complaint is that so many characters die. This is a horror/thriller, so I expected some gruesome deaths along the way, but I’m already missing Meeks the overconfident hunter. Also, Cruz feels a bit all over the place, personality-wise. First he’s calm and collected, then he’s super intense, then he kind of rolls over. It’s hard to get a reading on him.
The Wake is quickly becoming one of my favorite current titles. Each issue ramps up the thrills and the scare tactics leaving you terrified, but wanting more. Scott Snyder and Sean Murphy have created something special here. The characters feel genuine, the plot is fascinating, and the pacing is simply perfect.