First, I should give a shoutout to @Samsonkillingtime - they did a post talking about a few different underwater Horror stories and this was one of them. Seeing as how I’m a big Horror guy and a fan of Scott Snyder and Sean Murphy, this was something I felt compelled to check out. So thanks for putting this on my radar (joke unintended).
This 10-issue story is split up into two parts. The first half follows a marine biologist named Lee Archer. She is recruited by the DOH and a selection of other experts and is taken to a facility a mile under the ocean’s surface. Within the facility is a bizarre creature that threatens the safety of everyone there. The second half has an impressive time jump of 200 years and we change focus to a young woman named Leeward. With the world drastically altered by an underwater species, Leeward sets out on a mission to find answers and hopefully save the world.
I’ll be honest, I debated whether or not I wanted to do a post on this story. I’m willing to bet that during the brainstorming session, Snyder and Murphy were trying to debate whether or not this should be a Horror story or an Action-Adventure tale. But they decided to do both and you can clearly tell the difference once you switch between the two halves. That doesn’t mean this comic overall is a bad one, far from it. However, it does hurt it and prevent both halves from reaching their full potential. If they were to do two separate series - the first being a Horror story and then the sequel being the Action-Adventure with Leeward - it would be a huge benefit. Having said all of that, let’s look at the halves as they are.
As mentioned, the first half is trying to be an underwater Horror story. Our cast of characters is stuck in a facility that limits what resources they have and how they can react to the events that unfold. If the story focused on this specific tale, we would have something that’s akin to John Carpenter’s The Thing. That doesn’t mean we can’t tweak it some more. I would personally make this a 6 or 7-issue story if we were to go the Horror route. And the first 5 issues do have some sort of flashback sequence taking place like thousands or even millions of years ago that are supposed to provide clues to the origins of the creature. I would take those out completely and make the creature’s origins unknown. Have them speculate on theories and observations of course, but less is more for this specific comic. Lastly, perhaps make the ending similar to the previously mentioned John Carpenter film and make it a bit ambiguous whether or not our characters truly stopped the threat.
Now, let’s look at the second half. If this comic decided to focus on Action-Adventure with the story taking place 200 years in the future, the only major thing I would suggest doing is to make sure it’s long enough. Probably 8, or Hell, maybe even still 10 issues. As long as they make sure it is long enough, all the other tweaks and fixes should fill in naturally. They can take time to flesh out this world - they can even use the flashbacks that are in the first 5 issues to hint at and tease the ending and the big revelation. Hopefully, the revelation would be clearer because, as it is, I’m still a bit unclear on the specifics of the reveal. I get a general idea of what it is saying. But I still have some general questions that I feel like were overlooked or not addressed. As mentioned though, if they went all in on the Action-Adventure and made sure it was long enough, I’m sure those tweaks will appear naturally.
But as the story exists as is, I still had a fun time reading it. I gravitate more toward the first half of the comic, but there is plenty to enjoy in the second half. Aside from my biggest critique, Snyder’s writing is solid throughout. Yet Sean Murphy’s art should get a bigger shoutout. His art style is able to seamlessly switch from having a dark and gritty atmosphere to embracing the more action-packed fantastical aspects that the comic medium specializes in. I’d say it’s worth checking out.