Anshargal’s been gone for two days. The crew of The Deliverer grows wary. On the surface the Amphibian’s loose grip on sanity grows even more intense. Steve Orlando turns the screws of tension to the breaking point in “Undertow” #4.
There is some serious pressure on every side of this story. Things are going to come crumbling down for our intrepid revolutionaries. Trusting the Amphibian is forced decision with no real alternatives that doesn’t seem like it will play out well. Yet, despite the characters charming insanity there seems to be a method to his madness. How did he develop the way he did? And does he hold the key to surviving on land?
Orlando does a fantastic job at dodging the answers to these questions just yet. He’s built the narrative on a leaning tower of trust all centered around one man. Yet, that tower is starting to wobble and within the next issue everything should come toppling down. It’s compelling as ever but also incredibly nerve wracking. You fully understand almost everyone’s perspective save for the Atlanteans. Something I’m certain we’re about to get a lot more of.
Artyom Trakhanov’s art is nothing short of a revelation in his issue. His rich neon pastel like colors are a beautiful compliment to the story. The scene in the middle of the issue on land, during the bright day is beautiful albeit filled with death. Trakhanov’s ability to handle the delicate balance between drama and action is smooth and comes to a head in a particular scene with the Amphibian this month. There is a certain brutality to the art that is made softer with the color. It’s hard to look at and impossible to avert your gaze.
So far “Undertow” has been a tightly crafted adventure about where we go after we leave home. Everyone likes to put a mark on the map and say they contributed something huge to life itself. Few succeed. This is the heart of “Undertow.” It’s relatively impossible to predict success given the insurmountable odds stacked against Ukinnu and Redrum, but damn if that’s not what makes it so compelling.
You want these Atlanteans to succeed. Except they’ve entrusted an insane bastard of a creature to lead them further away from home in an attempt to save their own lives. It’s an interesting premise heading toward the finale of the series that will certainly test every character’s strength of will. I have no idea what lies in wait for us atop those mountains, but I certainly cannot wait to find out.
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