Writer: Vita Ayala Art: Lisa Sterle Publisher: Vault Comics
WHAT IS IT?
A sort-of updated tale of Orpheus and Eurydice or the "spiritual journey" genre.
In this version, however, the main character descends into the New York City subway system.
WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
Elysia goes looking for her brother, after he leaves a mysterious voicemail message on her phone. He doesn't sound like the macho guy persona he normally tries to put on. He sounds...scared. Her search leads her to the New York City subway system, underground, on the night of. the biggest storm in NYC history.
Because the hurricane is supposed to hit at any moment, she’s stuck down there until it's passed. One problem? They're expecting flooding...
This odyssey will take her on a strange and dark adventure in her search. But even in the depths of the subway, Elysia never would have guessed what she'd encounter.
Can she find and rescue her brother before the entire subway floods? Or will they be trapped there forever, submerged beneath the rising underground tide?
Submerged takes Orpheus's story and characters as a base, but doesn't try to adhere to its story too closely
I love that Elysia's brother's name is "Angel" and when she realizes he's lost, it's like Elysia (AKA "Heaven") has lost an angel
Ayala's use of flooding puts a time clock on the story and raises the stakes for our characters, and the updates from the intercom remind us of that, building tension
Lisa Sterle pays special attention to character design – for example, Angel often wears a hat and jacket with wings on them
Stelladia's colors are a pleasant-yet-moody combination of watercolor effects over what looks like digital color for an aquatic theme that still has a clean and controlled aesthetic
Also appreciated is when the color palette tells us who should be the focal point in flashbacks, which is a smart effect
Latinx & LGBTQIA+ representation is strong and makes for a story that's interesting and authentic and not about another mediocre white guy
Even if you can't personally empathize with Elysia's troubles, Submerged's story is enrapturing
Rachel Deering's lettering makes use of Stelladia's limited palette for pages that feel well-curated – every page would make for a beautiful art print
WHAT DOESN'T WORK?
Drug use and cursing may make it not the best for younger kids
Even with the intercom updates, the covers and title of the comic made me think being underwater would play a larger role, somehow
WHY SHOULD I READ IT?
This adaptation of Orpheus's story swaps the genders and highlights a Latinx lead in a story that feels authentic and natural.
Submerged is an important story about growing up and defining yourself outside of your family, but also about traditional gender roles and taking agency for yourself.
It's touching and melancholy, yet empowering. A must-read, especially for fans of modernized versions of classic tales.
WHAT DO I READ NEXT?
If you like the writing:
The Wilds by Vita Ayala & Emily Pearson
ODY-C by Matt Fraction & Christian Ward
Falconhyrste by Melissa Capriglione & Clara W.
If you like the art:
Long Lost by Matthew Erman & Lisa Sterle
Colossi by Ricardo Mo & Alberto Muriel
Sheets by Brenna Thummler
ABOUT THE CREATORS
Vita Ayala – Writer
"I like to write stories that are fun, but have weight and meat to them." (from Ayala's Patreon)
Is non-binary (uses "they/them" pronouns) and comes from Afro-Latinx descent, which I think might be how they could write a story like this that feels so unlike the kinds of stories white male writers create
Lisa Sterle – Artist
"Her work is often bright, expressive, and occasionally tinged with horror— marrying her two favorite themes: the beautiful and the grotesque." (from Sterle's bio)
Her Modern Witch Tarot Deck is absolutely stunning
Stelladia – Colorist
Multitalented: Is also an illustrator, comic artist & concept artist
Outlander: Hails from Spain
Enjoys working with grim or fantastical comic environments the most
Rachel Deering – Letterer
Multitalented: Is also a writer and editor of comics
Loves horror movies
Adrian F. Wassel – Editor
Name Recognition: Is the CCO & Editor In Chief of Vault Comics, and plays the role of editor on most, if not all, of Vault's titles
Also helps run Vault with his brother and father
Has personally helped other comics creators, like Eric Palicki, in their endeavors
HOW DO I BUY IT?
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