September 24, 2014

"You can die right here, or you can be reborn."
Steve Orlando & Artyom Trakhanov
Image Comics, 2014
192 pages, cmyk, digital

Undertow is yet another good sci-fi offering from Image Comics.
Redum Anshargal is a revolutionary. Rebelling against the rigid atlantean society he seeks a new way of life for his people. That belief takes him and his crew to a harsh environment - the surface world - inhabited by a primitive but resourceful opponent - the human race - that is being manipulated by the one being that might help Redum achieve his goal.
Steve Orlando's atlantean epic is set apart from other adventure comics precisely because of its natural if unintended political overview. The excelent cast revolves around Redum but is independent in terms of agenda and personality. Redum's position is similar to "our" own revolutionary figures, he has a past that is fairly hinted at but still misterious and has a target on his back that makes us question the other characters' intentions since they may have been sent by the atlantean powers that be to eliminate him. There is a lot to explore and the reader's interest is easily piqued.
Artyom Trakhanov's art has an expressive vibe to it, specially his colors, that improves throughout the book. His characters are recognizably unique and he gives the story a traditional sci-fi feel with a well developed design sense.
On par with Trakhanov's art are Yaroslav Astapeev's striking lines (in the "Epilogue" and "The Last Gig" segments) that hopefully will return to the book or, even better, find a well deserved place of their own in another comic.
The main story is backed up by shorter tales that star different characters of the Undertow universe, trying to explore other aspects - historical, sociological and even philosophical - of the atlantean society. Unfortunately, they add little to the reader's enjoyment of the primary narrative.
If you like epic sci-fi adventures with a world of their own and a greater depth to their story, Undertow is for you.

P.s.: This book was read through NetGalley. Once again (Displaced Persons suffered from the same), the image quality made the reading at some points (most notably the "The Last Gig" story) very difficult. This choice is understandable since piracy is a major concern in any digital medium, but how can you ask someone to review something if that person doesn't have the conditions to do it?

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