Vertigo is launching titles by DC Comics writers Scott Snyder and Jeff Lemire. In this case, Snyder is reuniting with American Vampire: Survival of the Fittest (2011) limited series artist, Sean Murphy to create a new world. The Vertigo titles do sport mature reader content and in this case it is some adult language. The Wake features a cover by Murphy of tails of fish swimming by a green tank with a chained, dark form in a straight jacket. The title itself might refer to the funeral gathering, but also considering the aquatic theme can be the wave formed around a vessel or other object. Murphy’s art features some detailed tech, simple character figures, and some moody scenes. A city building shows a gliding figure which reveals a flooded cityscape. The woman, in Waterworld gear, sees a dolphin whom she calls Dash carrying equipment. Dolphins have been in sci fi from David Brin’s novel, Startide Rising (1983), which has a crew of uplifting dolphins all the way to the 90’s SeaQuest series with the dolphin named Darwin.
The dolphin panics and swims off and then the woman sees a tsunami flooding the streets. She remarks, “It can’t…we’re so close.” A full page has the woman gliding away from the tsunami with the dolphin. Another spread shows an aquatic creature like the Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954) with large mer-eyes with the title and creator credits listed. The aquatic theme has some great sci-fi potential. What comes to mind is James Cameron’s The Abyss (1989) which had deep water contact with the lumiscent NTIs that threaten the world with massive tsunamis. Snyder brings a time shift back 200 years to Gig Harbor, Washington located on Puget Sound. A woman, Lee Archer, is on a boat, she resembles the same woman at the opening, either aging really well, frozen, or time shifted to the future. Archer is wearing The Flak Jackets hat that was in Sean Murphy’s Punk Rock Jesus (2012) limited series.
She tossing fish to the water while talking to her son, Parker, on her wrist communicator. Off the starboard side, a humpback whale poofs a breath. Parker notices that behind is mother is a helicopter making a water landing. An agent of Homeland Security, Astor Cruz, introduces himself. They speak in the cabin of the trawler following Archer’s boat. He plays her a recording that sounds like whale song, but ends a human-like shriek. This is similar to how the mermaids communicate in Animal Planet’s Mermaids: The Body Found (2012) pseudo-documentary. Cruz says he thinks she’s heard the sound before, and we get a flash back scene with the young Lee reaching out to the hands of what seems to be her father in a storm.
He promises her that he will restore her job at NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and also bring back her son to her life. NOAA was featured in Roland Emmerich’s The Day After Tomorrow (2004) which has a climatologist predicting an abrupt climate change before a massive tsunami sweeps through New York streets. She agrees and they take the helicopter to the base camp in Alaska. Cruz takes her down to the high tech room that has the rest of the team. This includes Dr. Marin, who is an authority on folklore, a mysterious man named Meeks, and Dr. Wainwright who has a past with Lee. Cruz reveals that they’re on a submarine making a fast descent. They are using designer breathing gas similar to the liquid breathing in The Abyss, except it keeps away the bends.
A splash page reveals the submarine above the Ghost Rig, an illegal base used to extract oil. The Abyss had an oil rig crew. The crew quickly discovers that Cruz told them different reasons for their mission; to examine the recording, a tissue sample, and a relic. They are interrupted by a scream. The door opens and a bloody man with a bulging eye yells as a woman calls for a medic. As they bring up a gurney for the man, Lee hears the call again. She follows it and in a splash, the silhouetted form of Lee, sees the bound form of the aquatic creature with a bloody mouth. This shifts back, again, this time 100,000 years, as a primitive man draws in a cave. He pulls out a circular device and stabs his eyes with it. This has shades of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) film where primitive man discovers the Monolith that advances them in intelligence. It is an interesting debut issue that may combine some powerful sci-fi concepts.