Written by Rick Remender
Art by Greg Tocchini
Lettering by Rus Wooton
Published by Image Comics
Review by Lilith Wood
‘Rama Rating: 8 out of 10
Rick Remender and Greg Tocchini hit their stride with Low #3. Remender’s writing is expressive but not over-blown in this story of a woman and her adult son who have to work together to survive. Tocchini’s rich artwork takes us seamlessly from an indulgent, futuristic city to the terrifying depths of the ocean. Low #3 gives us a lush adventure story and is a good place for new readers to jump on.
For thousands of years, humans have lived deep underwater to escape dangerous levels of solar radiation. Time is up for the domed city, where the air and the culture have become equally toxic. Stel and her son Marik are on a last-ditch mission to find a probe that has returned to earth with information. The mission doubles as Stel’s intervention for Marik, who is a self-pitying, guilt-ridden junkie.
Tocchini’s art makes each of the issue’s four segments distinct but also lets the story flow from one to the other. He toggles between blue-green highlights in orange-dominated panels to orange accents on shadowy blues and greens. In the beginning scene, Stel interrupts a crowded orgy to ask a senator for a small submarine. Tocchini uses apricots, pinks and tans to create a blur of bodies melting into each other and into the draped cloth around them, and we register that the end is nigh for this city. By the end of the issue when the story opens back out to the ocean, Stel and Marik are small figures in orange suits moving through a dark blue expanse.
Remender’s writing is strong in this issue because he is manages the characters’ emotions well. In Low #3, he tugs on the readers’ heartstrings less violently but more effectively than he did in the first two issues. In the first issue, I thought he went overboard in showing us how happy the family was before tragedy struck. In the second issue, Marik’s dissolution felt jarring after the wholesomeness of the first issue. In the third issue, Marik’s problems make more sense against a backdrop of citywide hedonism — and we can see that he is just an ordinary self-centered addict. Stel’s mix of sadness and sweetness is tempered by her will to survive and her tough love for Marik. Their frustration with each other is on a level we can understand from real life, even though they are in an extraordinary situation. Now that they are confronting each other, they also balance each other. When they yell at each other we can understand why each one is frustrated, and there’s some catharsis that they are both getting yelled at.
The energy level of the issue keeps building until the visual release of Marik and Stel coming out of their small pod into the gorgeously painted ocean. Tocchini’s art really soars in this underwater world. As Stel watches Marik swim, she has a nuanced emotional moment that doesn’t feel sentimental or heavy-handed. Stel has been an emotional character from the start, but this issue let me feel things alongside her for the first time. With Low #3, Remender has proven that he can write about family dynamics. It feels like there is a long, satisfying adventure story ahead of us now, and new readers can jump on here and understand the gist of the story.