the wake #3

Whale calls don’t sound particularly interesting, but they are when Scott Snyder’s involved. After three issues, The Wake hasn’t progressed extremely far in terms of scope – we’re still on a sub in the deep sea, still trying to figure out just what the monstrous thing is that has been scouring the depths for hundreds of years – but Snyder keeps moving us closer to answers. That’s a key part of the series, too, because Snyder starts out ambitiously with storylines set in the past, present, and future. We have yet to see just how those relate to The Wake‘s major plot besides a couple of hints – the monsters could be evolutionary strands of humans that remained in the water instead of walking on land – but at least it has felt like Snyder has been giving us a peek at where he’s headed in each issue.

This time, we find out a little more about the mermaid-man monsters. We know they’re bad news because they kill people, and we know they can make people see hallucinations. In issue #3, Snyder forces his characters to fight with the monster after it gets let out of its holding tank. While the sub fills with water, our main heroine Lee and the other members of the elite crew are forced to barricade themselves in a room. The water makes a perfect transportation system for the merman, and it’s bad news bears for anyone out in the open.

Snyder’s writing in this issue reminds quite a bit of The Thing. In John Carpenter’s film, the Thing inhabits the warm bodies of those in the compound, prompting paranoia throughout. In The Wake, the monster uses venom to daze the victim, forcing them to see familiar people that aren’t really there. It all feels straight out of an ’80s monster movie, especially a scene that has even the reader questioning if we’re seeing reality or a mirage.

There’s been a decrease in those past and future detours we got in the first issue, but issue #3 does dip a toe into the past, just to show us a meteor (a spaceship?) colliding with Mars three billion years ago. Snyder has been skirting around exactly what he wants to tell us, but at least towards the end of this issue there’s a new development – there are schools of mermen, and the one they’ve got trapped in the ship is calling them.

It’s easy to devour each issue of The Wake; they’re short and sweet, heavy on the action (with large, beautiful panels by Sean Murphy) and light on dialogue. The characters still aren’t particularly diverse, and to be honest, I probably couldn’t even name all of them; Snyder needs to work on giving each of the players more time in the coming issues before the series ends. But there’s still a lot of time and a good many more pages before The Wake trails off, and I expect Snyder to pull out a few more surprises (and odes to similar horror movies) before the tide comes in.

Thanks to Vertigo Comics for sending review copy.


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