Publisher: IDW Publishing
Writer: Rich Douek
Artist: Alex Cormack
Lettering: Justin Birch
Release Date: 23rd December 2020
With the gold almost within their reach, nerves start to fray amongst the crew of the SS Vagabond. Tragedy strikes in the cold black depths, and retrieving the lost treasure of the Bremen seems increasingly fraught with danger. A when night-time comes, the crew will discover that the monsters of the deep don’t necessarily always stay in the deep.
Okay, let me get this out of the way before I go any further… this is torture. I freely admit that I am terrible at waiting for things, but I really need to just have the whole of this series in one place right now so I can continue reading it. Blame the advent of being able to binge watching whole TV series’ at once or grab trade collections from the stands rather than monthly floppies. Blame Amazon telling me that my parcel is only 6 stops away (and you’d better believe I watch that map and time the driver on each stop.) Blame my burgeoning OCD that abhors an unfinished collection if you like, but if I start in on something and it’s good, I have to finish it. The unfortunate delays that have been caused by the global COVID-19 pandemic this year mean that we have only had two issues of this series in 2020, and that is killing me!
This series is good… no, scratch that… this series is incredible, and even with only two issues on the stands this year it’s already firmly in my top two titles of 2020. The tension, the terror, the very human bickering and mistrust and scheming all make this a very real and gritty thriller. It’s a book that I would already pick off the shelves and devour even without the addition of a very well-delivered horror story woven into it.
I love the way Rich Douek delivers a narrative, and much like with Road of Bones, every character that you meet here is a very real and believable human being with all their flaws and failings on display. Whether you like a particular character or not, they are fully realised creations and that, for me, makes them so much easier to become invested in (even if that is just a desire to see them get eaten by a shark). I love that Douek has managed to produce two titles in a row that tick every box for me in terms of character development, pacing, tension, and sheer bloody horror. He is clearly very talented at what he does, and with apologies for harking back to Road of Bones again, seems to have a capacity to produce stories that work really well in comic format but could with almost no effort be transported to the screen as a movie or TV series.
What can I say about Alex Cormack’s artwork that I haven’t said before? Well, not much really. If you want an artist that can consistently produce dark, gritty, believable characters that display their scars (both mentally and physically), and who have real emotion in their faces then give Alex a ring. If you want cosmic horror, grand guignol, body horror, insidious creeping dread, half glimpsed terrors peering out at you through the shadows, give Alex a ring. Simply put, the artwork in Sea of Sorrows is just perfect for me.
As I have previously commented in my interview with Douek and Cormack about the series, despite being brought up on the North East coast of England, I have a real terror of deep water and Cormack manages to encapsulate my fear of the mind-numbing, nerve-shredding isolation and blackness of the depths, the fear of something unseen lurking just out of sight ready to swallow you whole in spades. When viewed through a TV screen I actually find the deep ocean to be quite beautiful and peaceful, and Cormack also captures this perfectly, but I know without a doubt that if I was introduced to this environment, I’d probably have a heart attack before I made it back to the boat. Cormack can convey all these emotions and fears in single panels – I’m not talking issues or even pages, he can do it in single panels.
Issue two of Sea of Sorrows really ramps up the tension of the series. It brings more depth to the characters and it brings the horror well and truly out of the depths and, if not into the light, certainly into the terror-filled night.
The writer of this piece was: Mark Scott
Mark Tweets from @macoy_comicgeek