In the far, far future, the Sun has begun to swell, reducing the surface of the Earth into a scorched, uninhabitable wasteland. In response, mankind retreated to the vast depths of the ocean, protected from the sun’s deadly radiation by leagues of water. Now, the humans of Earth struggle to come to grips with their impending demise, whiling away the decades in the decadence of lavish underwater metropolises and pursuits of drug-fueled pleasure.
In the city of Salus, scientist Stel Caine refuses to submit to the fate that the rest of the populace is convinced is in store. She quietly waits for a signal from any of the inter-galactic probes sent thousands of years in the past to determine if there are other habitable planets in the galaxy. Her husband Johl, the last Helmsman of Salus, and their children are all convinced that Stel pursues a fool’s errand. Stel, on the other hand, is willing to face these implacable odds with a hope that burns as bright as any star in the cosmos.
With Low, Rick Remender (Uncanny Avengers, Uncanny X-Force, Fear Agent, Black Science) brings readers another provocative and deeply characterized foray into speculative fiction. Remender explores the audacity of hope in an age of man that is surely doomed. Salus is the Roman Empire of the human race, all debauchery and cynicism; meanwhile, the optimism of one woman is all that stands in the way of her people’s extinction.
This Earth of the future deserves a unique artistic interpretation, and Greg Tocchini delivers on a scale that defies expectation. Tocchini’s work is symphonic. Color, line, and shape merge, occupying the pages and panels with washes of chromatic surreality. The cool greens, blues, and indigos of the submarine locales are contrasted with warm oranges and reds of organic metal forms. Fantastic structures, submersibles, and impossible creatures caress the pages like time-worn artifacts, all rendered in a sumptuous, dream-like quality.
The experience of reading Low is a complete immersion into a dark, depressingly beautiful tale of confidence in the face of mercilessness. Between the world-building, the emotional complexity, and the artistic excellence, Low succeeds on all levels. This book should be a major consideration for all adult graphic novel collections. The second volume was released in late November 2015, so there are ample issues to devour in this on-going series. Low is intended for mature readers; there is plenty of violence, sexual themes, and adult language throughout. However, Low is one of those exceptional comics that could be a leading entry-point for science fiction and fantasy readers with little graphic novel experience.
Low, vol 1: The Delirium of Hope
by Rick Remender
Art by Greg Tocchini