Publisher: IDW Publishing
Writer: Rich Douek
Artist: Alex Cormack
Lettering: Justin Birch
Release Date: 3rd February 2021
The tension is rising aboard the SS Vagabond, with one crew member hysterical, another missing and the treasure no closer to being raised from the Bremen. The abyssal depths of the Atlantic, will not give up its secrets easily, but for this crew there is no turning back even if it means that not all of them will make it back.
Before we go any further, can we all please take a moment to appreciate Alex Cormack’s cover on this issue. I first caught a preview of it on Rich Douek’s Twitter feed, and it’s one that made my heart skip a beat. At first glance, we see the wreck of the Bremen, then we take a second look, and a third and… there it is, what you should have seen the first time, and it’s hypnotic once you do see it. I know I drone on about how good Alex Cormack is, but the details that he has been hiding in the apparently inky, featureless depths of this book are superb when you spot them.
As I mentioned above, the tension is really ramping up in this series. I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve referred to frayed nerves over my last few reviews of Sea of Sorrows, but we really are on that last thread now, the one the camera zooms in on before the rope breaks and the hero’s fingertips just graze the victims own as, eyes locked in betrayal and horror, they plummet to their death. Yeah, that’s the thread that this issue finds us on. The only protagonist in the whole book who seems to be in control of himself (for now) is Nick, the stoic diver who braves the icy, soul numbing horror of the depths at the behest of an increasingly reckless and dangerous Captain.
Writing reviews for this series is quite hard, because the overuse of certain words and phrases is frankly inevitable. Taut, terrifying, tense, nerve-rending, they’re all words I have used so many times in the last two issues, and to be honest, they are words that I seem to use in every review I write for anything produced by this team, whether they are working together or on individual projects.
It is also very hard to write a review for this series without sucking the tension out of it by entering too fully into conversation on the events of this issue, entering spoiler territory, becoming Homer Simpson walking out of The Empire Strikes Back. The best I can do in reviewing this series is to try and convince you of just how good a writer Rich Douek is, how good an artist Alex Cormack is, and hope that you take my word that the aforementioned terror, tension, and abyssal horror (I am thoroughly enjoying the word abyssal this week if you can’t tell), are worth you dropping your dime on this series.
What I can tell you is that in this issue, it’s no longer a creeping dread that we feel. The slow building of tension and half-glimpsed shadowy horror is reaching a pinnacle, and this issue feels like that paralysing heart stopping moment where you are standing on the top of a cliff staring down just before your body tries to make you step off.
This crescendo is fully evident in Alex Cormack’s artwork, with the scenes on the ship becoming darker, more brutal and bloodier, and the black waters surrounding the dive site becoming filled with franticm disorientating activity until we reach the final page, which… I can’t give away, but there will definitely be the use of words like cyclopean in my next review. Although I do hasten to add we are not entering the realms of R’yleh here.
Rich Douek continues to be one of my favourite horror/thriller writers of the moment. Everything he writes just goes from strength to strength, and he has an almost supernatural grasp of how to build tension and terror. Alex Cormack also remains, for me, one of the best artists in the business at the moment, with a style that is fantastically gritty and grotesque, but at the same time he has the ability to produce some incredibly beautiful and haunting images to throw the whole into stark contrast.
If by some insane chance you aren’t already reading this series then please take my word for it – if you’re a horror fan, you should not be missing this one. If you are already reading this then I think that this issue, and this series as a whole, is going to be one that haunts you for a good long while.
[PREVIEW ARTWORK – CLICK TO ENLARGE]
The writer of this piece was: Mark Scott
Mark Tweets from @macoy_comicgeek