26th May2015

‘Surface Tension #1′ Review (Titan Comics)

by Dean Fuller

Written and Drawn by Jay Gunn | Published by Titan Comics | Format: Paperback, 36pp

Surface-Tension_01_Cover_A

Surface Tension is another entry in Titan Comics comic output, and fits into their portfolio in that all the books they have been publishing have been different in tone, in style, in genre. You also get here 36 pages of story for $3.99 which in today’s market is very generous and very welcome. Welcome also in that it gives the creator a little bit more space to lay the all important groundwork for future issues.

Surface Tension on the , ahem, surface seems a straightforward (albeit watery) apocalypse story where, a year before the first issue begins a water virus had decimated the vast majority of the human race. The sea has also been acting strangely since then, throwing up new creatures and monsters, and new underwater structures forming.

We focus on the survivors living on the (fictional) Channel Island of Breith. Being an island surrounded by a now hostile and dangerous sea, the inhabitants are obviously trapped and in this first issue we learn a little background on some of the main players plus learn about what happened. The inhabitants attempts to live a reasonably normal life stands out starkly against what has happened in the wider world. Their attempt at normality though ends when two people thought dead return, seemingly healthy but now blue in colour.

This is a really promising effort by creator/ writer/ artist Jay Gunn. He combines several themes very well, end of the world apocalypse meets ecological collapse meets (maybe) alien visitors. The characters are pleasing enough, dialogue is strong, and the story, fantastical as it is, hangs together pretty well once the back story is fully explained.

My one main negative observation of this first issue is that of the plot device of ‘convenience’, always either laziness on the part of the writer or an indication of pacing problems. Two main examples are the coincidence that one of the blue returnees (Ryan) on the beach is found by his former girlfriend who just happens to be there on the beach, and that the other blue returnee (Megumi) though seemingly amnesiac proceeds to give us quite a big chunk of back story. To give Gunn credit, these do fit quite organically into the story but not enough that I didn’t notice them straight away.

Gunn as artist I found very enjoyable, his pacing and layouts being very strong, his line art also good. He seems equally at home depicting the small town charm of Breith as he is depicting the horrific melting effects of the sea sickness, or the creatures and monsters making their presence felt. He does need to work a little on his figures and faces though. The colouring also works very well, all bright colours on Breith, murky darks and blues in the sea.

What I like most about Surface Tension #1 is that Gunn has taken a theme I am guessing is close to his heart, the environment, and without being too preachy has turned in an excellent cautionary tale on what may happen to the human race if we don’t respect that environment a bit more than we currently do.

It also left me wanting to pick up the next installment to see where it goes, which is obviously the point of a monthly book. No better compliment than that.

***½  3.5/5

Surface Tension #1 is released tomorrow, May 27th, by Titan Comics.

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