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The Wake & Pop

the wake

By Scott Snyder (Author) and Sean Murphy (Illustrator) DC Comics/Vertigo (Publisher)

I love circular stories, and I love stories about fantastical underwater creatures. Those seem like pretty disparate interests, but Scott Snyder and Sean Murphy manage to hit all the sweet spots with this deft tale. The Wake takes a number of historical conspiracies and melds them with both past and present to create a suspenseful story packed with the intelligent manipulation of myth, fact and fiction. Remember the “bloop,” that mysterious sound detected underwater in 1997? Snyder posits that the Bloop was indeed a marine creature, only it is the skyscraper-sized emissary of a race of poisonous merpeople who are bent on the waterlogging of Earth. But Snyder’s considerable talent as a writer means that this ludicrous combination of ideas becomes an excellent tale of prophecy and apocalypse. The book follows two formidable women: Dr. Lee Archer, a contemporary cetologist, and Leeward, a woman who inhabits the flooded world of the future. Dr. Archer and an elite group of scientists, cryptozoologists and mythologists are summoned to the Arctic in order to examine a captured merperson. Of course, everything goes spectacularly awry. Murphy’s nervy illustrations are so effective that they induce panic in certain moments—you can hear and see the creatures in an alarmingly realistic way. They are sleek, creepy and endlessly visually interesting. As a storyteller, Snyder sees the potential in the reality of mythology: that ancient cultures who had no way of communicating with each other all possessed mermaid lore, but how? Archer does a beautiful job illustrating this concept to the reader by calling the creatures a “raindrop”; one event that creates a ripple that echoes through the years, much like the story itself.


By Curt Pires (Author) and Jason Copland (Illustrator) Dark Horse Comics (Publisher)

If you’ve ever suspected that the gyrations and siren songs of the pop stars you so enjoy may have been engineered in laboratory tubes, Pop is the book for you. It may also be for you if you would enjoy the simple pleasure of seeing Joey Ramone blow off Justin Bieber’s kneecaps. The premise is simple: pop stars are grown in stasis and released upon the world by corporate tastemakers when their programming is complete. But Elle, a bright, blonde-haired beauty, is released by someone who feels they owe a debt to the universe as a result of their involvement with the creation of a pop empire based on indentured servitude. Peppered with song lyrics and visual references to pop icons, the book’s flashy illustrations and quickly moving storyline make it a fast but enjoyable read. Jason Copland’s artwork is like a looser version of Fonografiks’ more tempered work, but it suits the story. Elle is a half-formed creation let loose in a chaotic world, paired up with a suicidal record-store owner. The loose lines of the artwork reflect their realities in a clever and engaging way. Pop namedrops Donna Haraway, the brilliant creatress of The Cyborg Manifesto, a piece that works to break down the distinctions between nature and machine. It’s a sly allusion, but effective in its inclusion. Haraway writes “machines have made thoroughly ambiguous the difference between natural and artificial, mind and body…Our machines are disturbingly lively, and we ourselves frighteningly inert.” Pop wants us to stop being inert and start engaging with music on our terms again, and to challenge those corporate tastemakers who have been programming us to their own tastes.

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