Reading Undertow #1, I felt as if I was reading a bit of a cautionary tale about a number of different current events and their respective countries. That’s a plus. I love a good comic that really makes me think (I still like the more mindless ones too, mind). Don’t worry though, Undertow‘s first issue isn’t some grand tome on social justice, but it does have a message. Add some vibrant, almost neon colors, and you’ll feel like an Atlantean in no time.
Here’s the plot summary from the first look we posted:
With Atlantis now a world superpower, Anshargal and his hostage-protege Ukinnu Alal hunt the Amphibian, a legendary creature that may be the key to an air-breathing life on land. In UNDERTOW #1, writer Steve Orlando (MYSTERY IN SPACE) and artist Artyom Trakhanov bring pulp monster adventure to comics and debut a new take on Atlantis in this new series.
When we first meet Ukinnu Alal, Resistance leader Redum Anshargal’s protege of sorts, he’s seeing carnage all around him, and swimming through the viscera-filled battle taking place underwater. We come to find out that he comes from a background of privilege, but little else. Love and affection are not part of his life with his parents, who expected him to continue on living a privileged life, not necessarily a fulfilling one. What’s a guy to do? Join the military. When all seems lost, Anshargal himself offers Ukinnu a choice, and he takes it.
As Undertow gets underway, readers learn that Anshargal isn’t the bad guy the Atlantean media has made him out to be. He cares about the people he’s in charge of, and is on a quest to find a way for them to live a life of freedom. To accomplish that, they must find a massive creature that may hold the secret to breathing air on land; the key to true freedom and independence.
The Atlanteans are very fish-like in their appearance, but they are humanoid, which makes me wonder if this will come up later on in the comic. The general message in Undertow #1 is all about not going about living a life that is ignorant of the very real issues that are going on all around you. Of course, this message is tempered by some life-threatening forays with giant fauna, and the advances made by this amazing aquatic race. Steve Orlando’s writing is engaging, painting Anshargal as a charismatic leader fitting for a title that considers itself “pulp”.
Artyom Trakhanov’s artwork really helps to bring Undertow to life, and really complements the idea of an underwater superpower like Atlantis. Let me tell you, the colors are bright, vibrant, and rich. It was like being in a dream sequence. The humans on land are wild and savage, and a bit childlike when they see these Atlantean researchers. The detail in the faces of the characters and their bodies is impressive, and I loved the addition of the weird tattoos to Anshargal’s body. It’s a bit different than what you’ve come to see in so many comics. It’s not necessarily ultra polished, but a bit abstract in a way, which totally makes sense given the comic. It works, and
What I am curious about is how the Anshargal and his fellow Atlanteans will move forward with the humans. I’m not sure if this was Orlando’s intention, but being a history nerd I am seeing a lot of potential parallels, so I wonder if relationships with the humans will be formed. We’ll see. One thing’s for sure, I’ll definitely keep reading.