Another sliver of the dystopian future opens Scott Snyder and Sean Murphy’s “The Wake” #3, followed by another unconventional composition for the credits page. The opening of each issue has been haunting in its disconnect from the main narrative, but as the series progresses, the two tales get deeper. With just a single, intensely shadowed image filling the credits page, Murphy delivers another stunning image featuring series lead, marine biologist Lee Archer.
Last issue’s cliffhanger has a bit of a delay preceding its continuation, but make no mistake, Snyder does not leave readers hanging very long. The future imagery sets a science fiction tone, but “The Wake” #3 goes from science-fiction flavored adventure with a side of uncertainty to a fully formed horror story as a number of the cast are viciously wiped out. Astor Cruz’s crack team of researchers begins to crack, shatter and implode, as happens in every horror movie, but Snyder makes it a little more personal as the creature responsible is clearly much more than we see on the surface.
Murphy’s art is pitch-perfect for this project: angular, but lithe, heavily shadowed and sketchy, oozing with uncertainty and distress. The setting for “The Wake” #3 is a reconditioned oilrig a mile below the surface. The only illumination is artificial, and colorist Matt Hollingsworth masterfully expresses in, around and over Murphy’s art. The highlight for the issue, though, is Murphy’s creature design, with plenty of action from the beast. The monster/mermaid/siren/what-have-you is equal parts Creature from the Black Lagoon, Medusa from “Clash of the Titans” and mermaid from “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire,” only with a more sinister, savage edge to it that supersedes the mystery of the “new” species. Jared K. Fletcher adds to the unorthodox visual choices in “The Wake” #3 as well. The font used in the word balloons is not standard-issue comic font — it’s off from the norm just enough to make everything unsettled and fresh.
“The Wake” came to me as a completely unexpected story as an unknown quantity, save for the talented creative team, which enables Snyder and Murphy to hit the reader with surprises. There’s no shortage of surprises, stunning scenes and gasp-worthy moments in “The Wake” #3. Snyder and Murphy have completely caught readers up with this adventure, hook, line and sinker. This is every bit as captivating as Snyder’s work on “American Vampire,” but the depth of the story is still shallow enough to be easily approachable for readers looking for a good story with a terrifying edge.