DC Comics Black Label/Hill House Comics 2020
Written by Joe Hill
Illustrated by Stuart Immonen
Coloured by Dave Stewart
Lettered by Deron Bennett
In the aftermath of a devastating tsunami, an exploration vessel known as the Derleth begins sending an automated distress signal from a remote atoll in the Bering Strait. The only problem is that the Derleth has been missing for 40 years. Marine biologist Moriah Lamb joins the Carpenter Salvage team to recover the Derleth’s dead...only to find that in this remote part of the Arctic Circle the dead have plenty to say to the living...Joe Hill and Stuart Immonen’s Plunge into terror begins here!
Right off the bat when I started reading this I knew it wasn't what I was expecting and that alone thrilled me. I mean if my idea of what I am going to see based on covers and first images is something of a misdirection then I cannot wait to see what else Joe has in store. While this isn't the past and the whole Ghosts vibe isn't really here it is clear to see the influence of the old horror comics. I have become one of the biggest fan of Joe's through his work in comics and that he's so multi-genre, novels and television as well, is something that expands my appreciation of his work.
When you open the book something comes over you and that's Stuart and Dave's influence because I'll be damned if this isn't something special happening here. That second page is everything and I cannot believe that's what is stumbled upon. There is so much in the direction of the story, what we see and the event that occurs to create an instant atmosphere that pulls you in and instils the desire to know and see more. As we move forward in the story we are introduced to a myriad of people and situations that at this juncture seem more random until it kind of gets loosely tied together. All of this is done as to keep us mildly distracted and unable to fully the big picture. It's really beautifully constructed as it really showcase how well the book is put together.
The story & plot development we see through how the sequence of events unfold and how the reader learns information is really interesting to see through the pages. The character development we see is utterly phenomenal and the running joke is beyond incredible I mean they're as big as elephant cocks. That alone is the ice breaker among the characters and I wanted to laugh till I pissed myself. I like the base personalities we see, they've been established to some degree and we see bits and pieces of that . It is enough to make those first impressions and still allow room for growth and even change whom we like and whom we don't. The pacing is excellent and as it takes us through the pages revealing the twists and turns along the way it has that lulling effect like the calm before a storm. All of this works together to create the books ebb & flow and honestly if you've ever been on a boat that is how it feels.
These interiors are mindbogglingly good. The linework is exquisite and how we see the varying weights utilised to bring forth this level and quality in the attention to detail blew me away. Stuart's got a pretty damn good résumé to his name and I think this is his best and strongest work to date. The way we see backgrounds being utilised and how they work within the composition in the panels to help feature the depth perception, scale and the overall sense of size and scope of the book. That Mako we see made me shiver, those giant squid are impeccably rendered and the bristle worms hell I didn't even know those existed. Then there's all the instruments and little detail that often get overlooked that we see and it all enhances our visual experience as well as the overall experience. The colour work we see is also a huge part of that. The moment I saw the squid and how the various hues and tones within the the colours are seen creating the shading, highlights and shadow work I was in love. Dave is as prolific a colourist as Stuart an illustrator and I have no idea what's in their water but by god I want some. This understanding of colour and how it works and how the shades within them should be utilised and can be utilised is on full display.
2020 is year of Joe Hill, I am making it official right here. This is going to be the most talked about book as the year flies by. There is a different style to the writing that feels unique to this book and this book alone and that the interiors are the best work I have seen out those two in all the years they've been working. I can't leave Deron out of the loop because the lettering is sensational and from the date and time markers to how we see them speak or think he puts the period at the end of the sentence.