As comic book fans we're a spoiled lot. There are simply too many good books you can buy each month and stay financially solvent. Take Image Comics as an example as to the quality of sequential art available week in and week out. They are stacked top to bottom with critically acclaimed books in different genres with The Walking Dead, Saga, Sex Criminals, and Rat Queens leading the pack. It would be easy to overlook many that come out each month. One of those books that deserves attention is Undertow by Steve Orlando and Artyom Trakhanov.
You're submerged into battle from the get-go and while it's fairly chaotic the book has a distinctive feel and look that you can't help but appreciate. Trakhanov layers colors upon colors, as you would see under water, in lighter and darker hues. It can blend and obscure the action at times but the use of red helps distinguish the players. Narration comes from a bored, unfulfilled rich kid looking for independence away from his pampered and predetermined underwater life on Atlantis. Ukinnu Alal is about to get more than he bargained for when he joins up with the separatist, Redum Anshargal.
Anshargal has forgone the stagnant and stale existence of Atlantis for a life on the surface where there's new worlds to explore. Something that captures the imagination of Ukinnu. He and a small population of separatists live in a ship that travels through sky and water looking for new lands and a means to breath on the surface without their water helmets.
The characters, humanoid sea creatures essentially, have a fierce appearance as if they emerged from the Black Lagoon but it adds to the world building taking place. Orlando does a great job of setting the action in different places expanding the world naturally with these characters at the top of the food chain. Even at one point demonstrating that humans are still evolving but still only savages.
It's also a politically divisive venture for Anshargal as those within his own community question this nomadic lifestyle. It gives Orlando a ton of freedom to explore the dynamics of the colony and its leadership, the conflict with Atlantis and Anshargal's obsession with attempting to live on land.
I have to be honest I had to read the first issue twice but not because it was unclear. Undertow is about ideas and desires and it's an immersive experience. An experience you have to follow closely to be rewarded. Orlando and Trakhanov have created an expansive pulp adventure with a fresh take on Atlantis. By issue two you'll be chasing the myth of the Amphibian along with Ukinnu and the rest of the explorers.
Atlantis is the world superpower, and Redum Anshargal is its worst enemy. If you want to break free of the system, he can offer you a place at his side, exploring the wild surface world in his watertight city barge The Deliverer. He and his hostage-protege Ukinnu Alal hunt the Amphibian, a legend that could be the key to an air-breathing life on land. But as they become the hunted, can Anshargal's team survive long enough to turn the tables on the godlike beast they set out for? A brand new pulp monster adventure with Ray Harryhausen at its heart and a look at Atlantis like never before from the up-and-coming team of writer STEVE ORLANDO (Mystery in Space) and artist ARTYOM TRAKHANOV.Catch up with Undertow limited series at Comixology or at Image Comics