The scene is still the waterlogged, dystopian American northwest two centuries from now in Scott Snyder and Sean Murphy’s “The Wake” #7, taking place in the literal and figurative wake of the Mers’ destruction of the world’s coastlines. The Mers, of course, are the innocently named but terrifyingly sinister underwater race that has forever altered the face of the earth, but in this issue Snyder also reminds readers than man himself often remains the most immediate threat.
It’s a world where mankind has managed to survive, and sometime even capitalize on, the ongoing and increasing threat the Mers present. It’s a dangerous but fascinating world as presented by Snyder, where as-yet unexplained ties to the past, and past issues, come forth. Other unseen threats, like the disturbing-sounding half-man, half-Mer hybrids that lurk in the waters, go a long way towards adding an unsettling, alien element to a world still like our own in many ways. Opportunists abound, local governments impose their rule, and those in power revel in using it against others who are not. Meanwhile, everyone runs from these constantly evolving creatures, creating an alluring dichotomy between the ordinary and extraordinary perils.
Like he’s done so effectively in his “Zero Year” epic in “Batman,” Snyder deftly juxtaposes time periods to add both depth and punch to the story; the issue starts off with a flashback to Leeward as a child that gives her an origin of sorts, and sets up her situation for the remainder of the issue. This four page sequence is then followed by the title page, an otherwise wordless splash that eerily references a recollection from past issues by another main (and similarly named) character, hinting at a possible but elusive connection that typifies what makes has made this series so compelling. Snyder is deliberately vague, respecting readers’ intelligence and forcing them to think, if they so choose, or allowing them to just enjoy and wait for the explanations to come. They’ll have fun with this issue, pondering whether there are any nods to or parallels with Moby Dick, Jonah and the Whale, and/or Jules Verne.
Murphy plays no small part in the feel for this grave new world, either. His designs are nigh-brilliant, with mankind traversing the skies in cobbled together motorized blimps and the seas in giant, modern ships retrograded with sails and oars. His sea creatures remain as malevolent as ever; rarely have monsters of such simple design evoked such terror and instinctive, natural evil. His double page spreads range from merely impressive to outright beautiful, and the larger panels leave Snyder plenty of room for dialogue when required.
“The Wake” #7 continues to surprise, just as every issue of the series has done, and it’s even more surprising that only three issues remain with so much still to be told. It’s equally fascinating, terrifying, and mysterious, a recipe that makes each issue a terrific experience that only makes the wait for the next one all the more agonizing.