All of the diverse and far-reaching elements introduced in past issues of Scott Snyder and Sean Murphy’s series come together in its finale in “The Wake” #10. Spanning two hundred years and ten issues, the two dominant storylines that have comprised this series come to an end simultaneously after being connected at the end of last issue, in an epic conclusion that befits a story of such grand scope.
Snyder makes this finale most rewarding for those who have been paying attention; the final issue, just like the rest of the series, is not one that’s easily consumed and understood by those looking for some quick and easy entertainment. In fact, anyone who came in late or missed an issue along the way probably won’t be all that satisfied — but if so, they only have themselves to blame. If any criticism can be levied at all against “The Wake” as a whole, it’s that it would have been best told as a graphic novel rather than a serialized story; Snyder’s storytelling style places key elements in places where one might not expect to find them, or before readers are ready to understand their relevance. When spread out amongst various issues, and the weeks between them, it requires extra effort on the part of the readers.
If readers make this effort, though, they will find “The Wake” #10 to be a beautifully constructed ending to a grandiose story that actually reaches even further back than the two centuries that once separated the two main lead characters. The revelations revealed here that date back millions of years are grown from seeds planted by Snyder over the duration of the series, and their divulgence in this issue is the light that’s thrown on the entirety of the series that reveals its grand ambition. Originally unfolding as an undersea horror/mystery, and working just fine as such, “The Wake” #10 makes it clear that these genres were but part of the story’s make-up. This issue, in fact, is definitively more of a thriller with Arthur C. Clarke/kind of sci-fi overtones, and that works out just fine, too. Snyder’s taken his story to a place where few would ever have imagined it would go, with the only indication being the disparate clues sprinkled around throughout.
Murphy is just as responsible for the grandiosity of the story’s reach as Snyder. The true magnificence becomes apparent as one of the story’s main protagonists begins to tell the true story of not just the Mers; the underwater species that has menaced mankind for these past two centuries; but also that of mankind itself. Murphy lays this out in a majestic and information-filled two-page spread that embellishes a fascinating and heretofore-unknown history. Murphy’s impressive pages don’t end there, though; his imposing airships, from different eras, all but define the adventurous part of the issue, and a torture device looks like something from one of Jules Verne’s nightmares.
“The Wake” #10 goes beyond delivering what was expected, by also delivering plenty more that was not. Snyder and Murphy’s finale exceeds expectations that weren’t even in place at the beginning of this series, and showcases exactly why this series was deserving of its recent Eisner award.