Humanity may be a fragile species, but it has the ability to accomplish extraordinary things due in large part to the power found in hope and optimism. Writer Rick Remender and artist Greg Tocchini's creator-owned sci-fi comic Low demonstrates the exactly this. The series, set thousands of years in the future, sows an era when humanity is literally waiting to die in several high tech cities at the bottom of the ocean because the surface of Earth has become uninhabitable. One family, however, has chosen to find a way to survive by discovering a new home for humanity.
This hope has led Caine family matriarch Stel to carry on after the death of her husband and son, reunite with one of her adult daughters who were abducted as children, and travel to the mysterious surface. This journey also allowed her now deceased son Marik to inspire the slaves and gladiators of a pirate city. And in the series most recent arc, it led Tajo Caine and her allies, the robot Io and merwoman Mertali, to make a choice that will take them and their home city Salus into unexplored territory: Outer space.
Remender spoke with CBR about that big decision and how it will impact the series when it returns in 2018. We also examine the power of hope and what it means to the Caine family, and why taking a several month hiatus between arcs allows him and his collaborators to maintain the integrity and quality of the series.
CBR: It's been a while since we chatted about Low, and the world is in a very different place than it was when you started writing it. I imagine you are, too. What's it like writing Low in a world where the core tenet of the series, hope and what it can do, is a precious resource?
Rick Remender: If I'm honest, it's vey difficult. My current reserves of hope are low. See what I did there? [Laughs]
The idea behind Low is a lot of maintaining optimism and hope in the face of hopelessness. That bleakness is a choice because the more you endure the harder it is to challenge your sense of hope and your sense of optimism. So I always like to keep the stakes high for any of the books I write, but for Low I've tried to keep the stakes so insurmountably high that it was very difficult to understand how any character would maintain an optimistic point of view.
That forced me to think through and hopefully convey new and believable ways where we all can apply that type of thinking to whatever it is that we're dealing with in our own lives. That's always been the challenge for myself on this book. That will be tested quite a bit coming up.
In issue #19, Tajo and her allies' hope for a better future led them to make a very interesting choice for both the city of Salus and the direction of the book.
Yes, Issue #19 ended with an up ending where Tajo discovered that Io had downloaded a good chunk of her brother Marik's consciousness. He had come to Salus in order to continue to hunt for whatever he was programmed for, and he's discovered what he believes to be an inhabitable world in the nearby Andromeda system. The issue ends with Tajo, Io and Mertali tricking the senate into igniting Salus' engines, which will cause the city to ascend to the surface and out into space.
They don't have any hard evidence, but after a bomb was detonated on Salus' air filters last issue, they were left with a choice: They could launch up to the stars, and on their way through the atmosphere vent the smoke and bring in new oxygen. Then, they can take a chance on the journey to this world. Or, they could stay down there and die for sure.
That issue was very much written with the current situation of the world on my mind. [Laughs] The stakes and the direness of it were something that I escalated due to a lot of the feelings I have on our current dilemmas.
It was an up ending, though. Of course, that up ending doesn't last very long. [Laughs] I've written issue #20, and that's where we finally get to see whats happening on the surface. I have the next 10 issues very tightly broken down. We've done a lot of character and world building, and now we get the joy of the fast moving plot as the trains start to collide. We'll get to see everything unravel and payout as all of the cast members we've set into motion begin to seek out their desires and try to survive such bleak circumstances.