Writer: Dan Watters Art: Val Rodrigues Publisher: Vault Comics
WHAT IS IT?
A beautifully crafted, nature-based horror thriller where two words collide and plants try to take over the earth.
It's kind of like Annihilation, with a little Pan's Labyrinth and Mass Effect 3 thrown in. Now, imagine Van Gogh painting that as the world collapses.
WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
When a bunch of broccoli-people rob a bank, you know it's going to be a weird day.
Unfortunately for the characters in this story, this isn't an alien crime comic. This is starting to look more and more like an epidemic, as strange, plant-based incidents are becoming more common.
But why? These anthropomorphized vegetables certainly aren't human. So, where did they come from? And what do they want?
While some want to study these creatures and how they're coming to our world, others aim to make them stop by any means necessary. But is such a thing possible? Or is it already too late.
There are so many questions in this fast-paced ecological thriller.
Finding the answers won't save you.
Dan Watters merges mythos and otherworldly fantasy and science fiction seamlessly, infusing it with core characteristics of humanity to craft a terrifying, cautionary tale that feels like it could happen tomorrow
Watters manages to fit quite a number and range of statements into these 5 issues:
Bureaucrats getting upset that people didn't follow rules around of apiece of equipment, even though it was used to save lives and catastrophic events are happening right outside
People not realizing "something is wrong" (you'll know what I mean when you read this) until it's too late, just like how people will react when climate change comes to claim us
Questioning what guns and technology really do for us -- they help us feel safer only when they're in our possession, but do they really make us happier, or better? Or do they really only make things worse for people?
Also, Watters' ongoing themes work on many levels, both literally and figuratively in the story
Trees telling stories through the rings in their trunks works to explain the knowledge one character gets, but it also is a commentary on how humans, to learn a tree's story, have to cut it down, killing it
Roots are also a major theme, even going so far as centering the comic's title around them
Roots dig into their earth and can be literal or used metaphorically
They're also a way for an organism to claim a space as its own, something the book comes back to again and again
I loved the scene of the girl reading Staying With The Trouble, a book about the interconnectedness of humanity and non-human entities, and potentially merging human and non-human life into a single life form
At least, that's how I understood the book's description (it was a little over my head)
I am in love with the art on this book by Val Rodrigues and Triona Farrell, who work incredibly well together to the point where it's hard to tell where the line art ends and the color work begins
There's an art style that looks heavy inspired by Van Gogh and represents the other world, which is such a brilliant and effective tool to signify where characters are, but also to give a sense of unease
Using different palettes to separate scenes and locations is also really effective, jumping from dreamy blues and lush yellows to harsh reds or sicklier yellows
Page turn reveals pack a punch
The thought given to distortion of the art and panel design to give a sense of falling apart was really smart -- I love how this team plays with the comics medium
Using lighting to give characters a halo effect
Aditya Bidikar's lettering is always brilliant; in this title, he plays less with innovative world bubble design and more with pairing the art and the bubble placement to artfully guide the reader's eye (see what I mean in the image below)
Strong female leads, a majority of which are non-white, are prevalent throughout
WHAT DOESN'T WORK?
You're going to have a lot of questions
There's a bit of jumping around, and I got a little confused as to what happened between scenes early on
Fear not! A lot of your questions get answered about mid-way through, in the page 60-70 range
"Curled," the flash fiction story at the end of the trade, felt unnecessary and like it would have been better as a teaser
That being said, it was interesting and well-written, even if it didn't effect the world or events in the rest of the comic
You'll need to clear your schedule, because it's nigh impossible to put this comic down
Don't expect an uplifting, feel-good story here
WHY SHOULD I READ IT?
It's a phenomenally written, gorgeously illustrated horror thriller that's enjoyable at face value and for readers who prefer a depth to their comics. Its message is powerful, and its delivery even more so.
You may need a lie-down after finishing it, however.
WHAT DO I READ NEXT?
If you like the writing:
Lucifer, Vol. 1 by Dan Watters & Max Fiumara (out in June, approximately)
Arcadia by Alex Paknadel & Eric Scott Pfeiffer
Injection, Vol. 1 by Warren Ellis & Declan Shalvey
If you like the art:
The Incal by Alejandro Jodorowsky & Moebius
Über, Vol. 1 by Kieron Gillen & Caanan White
Sandman, Vol. 1 by Neil Gaiman, Sam Kieth & Mike Dringenberg
ABOUT THE CREATORS
Dan Watters – Writer
Part of the White Noise collective with other extremely talented comics creators
Outlander: Lives in London
Val Rodrigues – Illustrator
Outlander: Hails from Brazil
Moniker: Full name is Valdeci Rodrigues
New Face: It seems like this is one of Val's first published comics!
Triona Farrell – Colorist
Outlander: Lives in Ireland
Multitalented: Thought primarily a colorist, she also does some illustration work
Self-identifies as "a complete nerd"
Aditya Bidikar – Letterer
Multitalented: Co-hosts a comics podcast with fellow letterer Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou, called Letters & Lines
Dream Team: Also worked with other White Noise writers, Ram V & Ryan O'Sullivan
Sometimes hosts a #LettererJam event on Twitter where letters all show their different approaches to a single page of comic book art
HOW DO I BUY IT?
The DEEP ROOTS collected series comes out Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2019.
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