-This article was possible due to the gift of a review copy, QWERTY, and rolling natural 20s.
Guest Writer: Brent Griffis
Written by: Christophe Bec
Art by: Stefano Raffaele
Colored by: Christian Favrelle
Cover by: James Stokoe
- Occasionally, a comic book will come along and fill readers with such a sense of wonder and enchantment that they cannot help but want to be drawn more deeply into the comic’s fictional universe.
This is not the case with the first issue of UNDER: SCOURGE OF THE SEWER.
From the first page, Lieutenant Wilson Jericho is a one-dimensional rehash of every gruff cop stereotype. His nightmares about a dead partner, awkward rude flirtation with the issue’s one and only female character (we’ll get to her later), and drinking by the bottle in a seedy dive bar all seems like pages straight from the Grizzled Protagonist Handbook. In a word, a truly boring lead character.
The other, rather homogeneous, residents of Megalopolis (Megalopolis? Seriously?) aren’t much better.
Jericho’s cohorts in the sewer police all look and speak like extras from ALIENS, and seem remarkably incompetent when faced with hazards they had previously referred to as routine. The mayor is a predictably craven opportunist who smokes big cigars and is constantly scheming about re-election, going so far as to hire mercenaries to ensure that the story of what’s going on in the sewers remains hidden away from the public.
Sandra Yeatman, the aforementioned female protagonist, is written like a gushing schoolgirl. Immediately upon her introduction, Yeatman is gratuitously ogled by members of the sewer police in a scene that exists not to further the plot in any way but because…Scientists wear underwear? She’s condescended to by her professor (of course) and is completely helpless before Jericho’s irresistibly brusque “Makes you think, doesn’t it?” – seeming more interested in becoming a hanger-on to his exploits than continuing her own research.
The main highlight of this issue is the artwork. Stefano Raffaele and colorist Christian Favrelle do their best to bring a certain dimension and dynamism to a script that is mostly set-up at best. The unique use of lighting gives an air of perpetual night. The sewers feel appropriately claustrophobic and nauseating, and the city at large feels like it’s on the brink of collapse, which is perfect for a story about giant subterranean monsters.
Many comics improve after their premiere issue, and it’s entirely possible that this series will get better with issue #2. The story could pick up, the characters could begin showing new layers and we could be introduced to unique and frightening monsters. But if not, this story will remain one tunnel that’s better off unexplored.