Advance Review – Surface Tension #1 (Titan Comics)

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Click to enlarge

Publisher: Titan Comics
Writer/Artist: Jay Gunn
Release Date: 27th May, 2015

 The first thing that strikes you about Surface Tension, the brand new post-apocalyptic-series-with-a-twist from creator Jay Gunn, is just how beautiful everything looks. While we may have been conditioned to view these kind of dystopian tales as possessing a bleak, dusty, scorched-earth aesthetic, Gunn instead paints a picture of quiet isolation that has more in common with Miyazaki than Mad Max. Two years ago, 99% of the world’s population contracted a mysterious virus that caused them all to walk into the sea, never to be seen again. Now, two survivors have washed up on the shore of a surviving island community with no memory of what happened to them over the previous two years… and they may have brought something truly terrifying along with them.

This first issue contains a fairly significant amount of exposition, introducing us to a cavalcade of characters while also establishing the details of the overall premise, but Gunn handles things smoothly without things ever feeling overwhelming. At this point however, it’s not entirely clear who the central protagonist(s) are, so Gunn spreads the love around by giving each character their own opportunity to establish themselves. Hopefully as the series progresses he can zero in on one or two of these characters, something I feel will definitely enhance the narrative – and our investment in the story as a whole.

It’s also worth noting that Gunn’s world building skills are truly impressive in their level of detail, creating an involved, multi-layered history and mythology behind the main story, even adding a bizarre, water-worshipping religion (cult?) for good measure. As a result, it’s difficult not to find yourself sucked in to the rich world he has created with its unusual blend of beautiful landscapes and terrifying creatures.

As I mentioned above, perhaps the biggest selling point of Surface Tension is going to be Gunn’s impressive artwork, with rich, vibrant colours and some truly inspired character – and monster – design. His composition is spot-on, recreating the serene beauty of the quiet island life, but juxtaposing it with the ominous coral monoliths just off the shore and the dangerous, almost mythical creatures who share the island with the seemingly immune survivors. Also, while there’s undeniably a strong ecological message behind the series, Gunn ensures that the message never comes across as preachy, instead presenting a thoughtful analysis of the damage we’re doing to the planet and musing on just how far we’d be willing to go in order to potentially put things right.

Overall, Surface Tension lays out a truly intriguing premise in this first issue, introducing some of the key players and painting an impressive picture of creator Jay Gunn’s distinctive dystopian vision.  Equal parts mystery, horror and human drama, this is a first issue that provides more questions than it does answers, but with the clear passion Gunn has for the project, Surface Tension looks poised to become something truly special as the story progresses. Jump in and get your feet wet before you end up missing out on what could be one of the sleeper hits of 2015.

Rating: 4/5.

 If you want to find out a little more about Surface Tension, make sure to check out our interview with creator Jay Gunn –

576682_510764502303144_947146289_nThe writer of this piece was: Craig Neilson (aka Ceej)

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