Comic reviews

Low by Rick Remender and Greg Tocchini Format: Paperback

Buy From: Amazon

Borrow: UK Libraries

Summary: Millennia ago, mankind fled the earth’s surface into the bottomless depths of the darkest oceans. Shielded from a merciless sun’s scorching radiation, the human race tried to stave off certain extinction by sending robotic probes far into the galaxy, to search for a new home among the stars. Generations later, one family is about to be torn apart, in a conflict that will usher in the final race to save humanity from a world beyond hope (taken from Amazon).

Review: One day I was browsing through the graphic novel section at a local bookstore when I came across Low. The first thing that hit me about it was the beautiful cover, then I read the blurb. I knew, there and then, that I had to read this comic. The post-apocalyptic under-the-sea world this comic promised sounded exactly up my street.

Unfortunately, after reading it, I’ve been left disappointed. There was so much potential in this comic, but its fall-backs dragged it down. Before we discuss that, let’s focus on the positives. The world of Low is fascinating, the artist really managed to bring it to life, and the premise is great. Low is set in a world where everyone has retreated underwater; where they will eventually suffocate and die. This world is rife with potential for conflict, ethical dilemmas and personal struggles.

Now onto the not so good stuff. Although the art was beautiful and helped realise a surreal, post-apocalyptic world, it has its drawbacks. For one, the art doesn’t have very well-defined lines, this makes characters and settings of the book sometimes hard to recognise. This paired with a whirlwind storyline, which throws everything at you all at once and expects you to deal with it, left me feeling utterly disoriented. Although, the art needed to be clearer and more defined to properly portray the story.

Women are not treated well in this story and are objectified for no reason. Often, there are scenes where women are scantily clad or fulfilling the wishes of men, whilst men are fully-clothed. I don’t mind sex scenes or nudity, one of my favourite comics is Saga, but they need to be justified. The sex scenes in Saga not only help character development or world building, they are balanced and varied, with men and women getting the same treatment. Also, the fact that Stel, the main character, looks the same age as her grown-up up daughter, whilst men are allowed to look grizzly and old says a lot. It tells me that this comic is only trying to target a single demographic (men) whilst isolating others and I found that a great disappointment.

Another thing I struggled with is character development. In the foreword, Rick states that he wanted to create an optimistic character as he noticed a lot of his characters were pessimistic. Stel is exactly this. However, a lot of the time we aren’t shown this; people just state it to her, over and over and over again. Stel is put through a lot of challenging moments so it would have been good to be shown her optimistic nature through her actions. Also, Stel’s son, Marik, does a total 180 in terms of his character development at one point. This came out of nowhere and needed a lot more build-up to be remotely realistic. And for a comic that says its meant to be about Stel, a lot of focus is put on her son. If you tell me the main character is going to be Stel, make it Stel.

TLDR: I was really disappointed with Low. I wanted an interesting story about an optimistic woman struggling to live in a post-apocalyptic world that would eventually fall. What I got was bad character development, a story that was hard to follow because of its pacing and art, and the constant objectification of women. Although it was disappointing there were a few good points, such as the world building and, even though it was badly-defined, beautiful artwork. However, in my mind, these points don’t save it so I will sadly not be continuing with this series.




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