The Atlantean dream is over. Atlantis’ once-shining society has deteriorated into dissolute plutocracy. The only escape, for some of its citizens who want freedom from its constricts, is in the unknown frontier on the surface of the ocean. In the September graphic novel UNDERTOW by Steve Orlando and Artyom Trakhanov, the rebel Redum Anshargal leads a crew of Atlantean defectors toward an uncertain future.
Joining Anshargal in VOLUME ONE: BOATMAN’S CALL, as he chases a rumor of the mysterious “Amphibian” who may be the key to living on land as well as in the ocean, is Ukinuu Alal, a young man from a wealthy family who chose to abandon a life a privilege for one of freedom.
For writer Orlando, the tension between the two men’s relationship with their homeland is the heart of the story. “Both have so much anger, but how do they react to it?” he said in an interview at Broken Frontier. “For Anshargal, it is detachment. He hates Atlantis, but simply wants to live away from it. Living well is the best revenge, that is. For Ukinnu, though, his is a younger anger, more petulant, and he wants to hurt Atlantis — to get back at it, for grinding him through its social soul-crushing machine.”
Orlando’s partnership with Russian artist Trakhanov arises from a shared love of pulp and science fiction — and, of course, comics. Trakhanov makes use of scratchy inks, vivid, clashing colors, and underwater visuals that can be murky but never muddled to create the world of UNDERTOW.
“Artyom’s influence is huge; much of the visuals and tone come from him,” said Orlando. “My design notes are almost always emotional rather than visual, noting how the creations should make other characters in the story or readers feel, the thoughts they should evoke, and then Artyom runs that through his artistic powers and creates something amazing.”
UNDERTOW VOLUME ONE: BOATMAN’S CALL also includes never-before-printed stories set in the UNDERTOW universe by Blair Butler (HEART) and TJ Kirsch (OUTLAW TERRITORY), Leila del Duca (SHUTTER) and Tony Gregori with colors by Mike Spicer (Sons of Anarchy), and Tyler Niccum (OUTLAW TERRITORY) and Yaroslav Astapeev.
I haven’t had a chance to read the rest after my review of Undertow #1, but the first issue was on point. Check out my review here.