Review – Under: Scourge of the Sewer #1 (Titan Comics)

Publisher: Titan Comics
Writer: Christophe Peck
Artists: Stefano Raffael, Christian Favrelle
Translated by: Mark McKenzie -Rey
Release Date: 13th December 2017

I could make this review extremely short if I wanted to and it would still do the comic justice:

Who here absolutely loved James Cameron’s Aliens? Yes? Then you HAVE to read Under!

The story takes place in a city that gives off vibes of the not-too-distant future. We’re introduced to the stereotypical hero cop Jericho as he enters head-first into a hostage situation. However, as we quickly discover, he’s not actually much of a hero. He screws it up and gets put on sewer cop duty, a Corp known as “the rats” filled with all the other reject cops who patrol the miles of sewer beneath the city.

Flash forward a bit and we find out that Jericho has been tasked with escorting Miss Yeatman, a zoology student studying the urban myths of giant sewer creatures that have evolved or mutated beyond normal size. She’s expecting a few cat-sized rats or albino gators, but unbeknownst to them the town’s homeless population are being devoured by 50 foot spiders.

Christophe Peck taps into the inherent appeal of the 1950s B-movie stories that we all love but never really feel comfortable admitting to in public, but Under is far more than that. It has the familiar tones of a great horror movie, with characters that the reader instantly taps into without needing heaps and heaps of back story.  We pick up on the corrupt mayor, the scientist, the macho marine (or in this case cops) almost instantly without ever feeling that they’re cheapened.

There’s always a fine line with stories like this between cheese and suspense,  but the story progresses in a such way that we get the tension and skin-crawling moments in drips at first. Then, suddenly, pardon the sewer humour, a huge floater drops on your lap of “What the bloody hell was that!?”

The main reason for my Aliens recommendation above comes from the look and feel of the art. Stefano Raffael was definitely a fan of the Colonial Marine look which he recreates for the rat corps here beautifully. The humans drawn also have a way of showing you their personality through how they look. The corrupt mayor has a slimy quality to him, as do the sewage workers foraging for scraps, whereas the heroes wear their heroism on their sleeves with a sharper, “been through it” look.

Where it really pays off is the monsters, not just the details of every individual creepy crawler but the darkened, faeces-dripping sewers which really make your skin crawl.  Just thinking about the panels right now makes me feel itchy and like I want check the corners of my room for a camel spider waiting to jump on my face.

In summary, I wouldn’t necessarily say this is for everyone. If you’re an arachnophobe, for instance, or simply not a fan of horror then you could maybe give it a miss. But I do think most people will get something from this as it hits many nerves on the pop culture pulse.  Fun, creepy, and well worth a read.

Rating: 4.5/5.

[Click to Enlarge]

The writer of this piece was: Indiana “Indy” Marlow
Indy Tweets from @smokingpunkindy


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