Review by C.J. Bunce
Just the image of a deep sea diver in a copper and brass helmet and lead boots conjures legends and lore of 19th century explorers, mysteries yet unsolved and shipwrecks and lost gold treasure. A four-issue comic book series from IDW Publishing titled Sea of Sorrows introduces readers to a crew of a salvage ship after the first World War. They are searching for a lost U-boat said to have gone down with enough gold to reward the crew several times over. It should be a simple errand, until a diver thinks he sees a woman swimming at the bottom of the sea.
What could be an historic tale of post-war trauma, a motley group of adventurers looking for an easy way out, and a journey there and back again–this time–is a tale of undersea horrors of the Lovecraft variety. Writer Rich Douek and artist Alex Cormack, both coming together again after their Road of Bones series, tell a perfectly dark story for anyone who loves Jules Verne and doesn’t mind a bit of an uglier and grittier route. Justin Birch provides lettering that stands out, too–often “letters are letters,” but here Birch’s style helps establish mood and excitement.
Cormack’s artwork is all black and white, then tinted like the panels were colored in a more traditional style with period pastels. It works beautifully. Some of the characters are a bit blocky, but images of the ship at sea, designed to emulate woodcuts, more than makes up for it. Douek’s story is overburdened with modern overuses of profanity, but the core is something to stick around for.
As seen on some of the cover artwork, the phantom below is a mythic Siren, and we all know how that kind of tale usually ends.
Not for the younger set due to some violence and language, but recommended for fans of the 2020 movie Underwater, and anyone who loved Matt Kindt’s DeptH series will appreciate the promising overall package of storytelling here. Add Sea of Sorrows from IDW Publishing to your comic shop pull list now at Elite Comics or your local store. Or pre-order the trade compilation edition slated for publication late next year here.