Friday, October 3, 2014

"I am most seriously displeased."

In my life, I consciously attempt to channel Elizabeth Bennet over Lady Catherine de Bourgh, but in certain situations, Lady Catherine's snarky, tactless, and overbearing statements just feel right.  I've been having a really horrid week, and the books I've finished haven't improved my mood.

I should just stop looking forward to books.  The ones I wish were amazing end up being meh ... or worse, bad.  The latest to fall from grace?  The Wake by Scott Snyder.  And so it goes.


Because I am cheap, forgetful, and work someplace where I can get trade paperbacks of graphic novel or comic runs for free (library, hello), I generally wait for volumes to come out before I read the comics.  I'm a pretty big fan of Snyder's American Vampire series, and although Batman isn't one of my favorite superheroes, Snyder does have me reading the New 52 Batman.  That's no small feat.  I do prefer it when he writes horror, however, so I was really looking forward to The Wake.  I wanted to keep my mind free of any influences, so I didn't read about it as it was being published.  I went into the bound volume knowing the title and the author.  That's it.

From the first few panels, I had a feeling something was up.  There was that uneasy feeling in the pit of my stomach.  One of our main characters, Leeward, swoops through an abandoned city on a hanglider.  Some of the moves she pulls off made me question whether it was windpowered or steampowered or what.  Her buddy Dash is a super-dolphin wearing a backpack, and they must escape a giant wave that sweeps through an abandoned city.

Cue flashback.

Oh, okay.  Things are looking up.  Secret mission for single mom scientist Lee Archer?  Strange whale noises?  KILLER MERPEOPLE?  I'll go with it, although my brain keeps going here:

"Mer-MAN!  Mer-MAN!"

The pace moves along at a nice clip until we hit Part Two, which is a bit like riding a bicycle into a brick wall.  I have not personally experienced this, in case you were worried.  I'm just using my imagination.

In Part Two, our plucky future heroine gets captured, escapes, finds some pirates led by a dude who looks like Jack Sparrow but with more prostheses, dumps the pirates, and discovers Big Answers to Big Questions about Who We Are As Humans etc. etc.  It's kind of a 180-degree turn from the conspiracy/alien invasion tone of the first part, which was pretty fun, although not without its faults.  The fault, dear Brutus, lies in the art.  I didn't like it.

The female characters all looked the same, and a lot of the male characters had facial features that were so exaggerated that I couldn't tell whether it was supposed to be some sort of future plastic surgery or if Sean Murphy thinks men's jawlines actually look that way.  The evil merpeople had potential, but a lot of the fight scenes were really scritchy (the only word I can think of, sorry!) in that the lines feel hasty, not full of movement.  My eye didn't know where to look and so it was like this blob of merpeople randomly biting human people.

Well, actually, it's not just the art.  It's the giant pile of unanswered questions left at the end.  Like what's up with Dash and his fellow enhanced whale-buddies running commando missions?  Why does he understand English?  Why do the pirates ride around in a giant merman?  Is it a dead one or a fake one?  Why is there so much running in the first part of the book when there's really nowhere to go?  And if someone could explain the eye thing to me, I'd be really grateful.

This was just overwhelmingly underwhelming, which makes me very sad.  Maybe next time, guys.

I received an ARC of this title from Netgalley.

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