Review: The Wake by Scott Snyder & Sean Murphy

The WakeAs you’d expect from the winner of the 2014 Eisner Award for Best Limited Series, THE WAKE is a brilliant sci-fi epic. Highly innovative, both conceptually and in terms of its storytelling, it’s engrossing and thrilling from start to finish. As if we needed reminding, Scott Snyder and Sean Murphy have underlined their status as two of the best creators in comics.

THE WAKE opens with marine biologist Lee Archer being approached by the Department of Homeland Security for help identifying a new species from the depths of the Arctic Circle. Like the best horror / survival stories, things immediately go awry, and Archer and a team of scientists are left to fend for themselves in an oilrig at the very bottom of the ocean. The opening chapters are told at breakneck pace, stylishly illustrated by Murphy, but four chapters in I began to wonder how much longer Snyder could maintain this plot thread: I feared a drawn-out tale of survival would eventually grow tedious. So what does Snyder do? He turns the story completely on its head, shifting perspectives and propelling the story into the future, when the world has been decimated by oceanic terrors and catastrophes, and mankind exists in factions. How does young Leeward’s story connect to Archer’s? That’s all part of the excitement – and THE WAKE is precisely that; exhilarating. We invented the term ‘unputdownable’ for stories like this.

Visually spectacular, THE WAKE is perhaps the exclamation mark on Snyder and Murphy’s career to date, but it would be foolish to think they’ve reached their apex. Both have shown an insatiable appetite to better themselves with each new work; an exciting prospect then, as THE WAKE is a blockbuster, in scope and execution, and demands your attention.

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