We humans like to consider ourselves the greatest species to develop here on Earth. We have created advanced levels of communication, trade and civilization, but these feats are restricted to our land masses. Our world is made up of only 29% land, leaving the rest occupied by the vast and formidably deep ocean. So what would happen if that 71% were to turn on us?
In Jay Gunn’s debut series as both artist and writer, our world is thrown into survival mode after the human race is subjected to a deadly aquatic virus. Now cut off from the rest of the world, the remaining residents of Breith within the British Channel Islands struggle are trapped and alone within their water locked home, until the ocean spits something back upon their shores. Something human. Are these survivors a sign that there’s hope or has something sent them there intentionally? Let’s take a look at this Titan series and determine if it’s good.
Surface Tension #1 (Titan Comics)
The comic focuses on a few main characters: Cassel, the leader of the town, Mary, a former nurse examining the survivors, Ryan, a man who mysteriously showed up after being taken by the sickness, and Megumi, a researcher, also taken by the sickness, who was a member of the group who discovered the alien presence. One year ago, Megumi and her team were assisting the clean-up and research of an oil spill when a mysterious coral spire, now dubbed a “coral sentinel” appeared and began absorbing the oil and bringing life back to the ocean. Without giving too much of the plot away, this escalated into the development of a sickness infecting humans and causing them to melt and rejoin the sea. On top of that, strange aquatic monsters began appearing and began picking off survivors who ventured into the waters, leaving the island of Breith completely shut off to the rest of the world.
The series incorporates a lot intriguing concepts that delve past the average supernatural apocalypse tale. If you hadn’t have known the context of the island civilization, you wouldn’t have guessed the current condition of the world. Gunn portrays the island with a serene tranquility with citizens going about their daily lives and it’s this sense of normalcy that produces an eerie vibe. Gunn took inspiration from ’78 remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers which is apparent within the issue through the introspective panels depicting typical island life opposite the overarching theme supernatural threat.
Jay Gunn has really come out of the gates strong with this series and showcases a great grasp of both writing and artistic talent. The dialogue is realistic and well thought out, transitions are smooth, and the plot develops methodically and delivers enough information without being overwhelmed. The art is excellent and each page shocks you with a wealth of color and detail whether it’s with the tropics of the island, the melting flesh of the infected individuals or the surreal kaleidoscope of color from the oil spills. The detail of the “sea-sickened” and other aquatic monsters (especially on the last page) really develops the horror aspect of the issue and deviates away from supernatural-fantasy.
What stood out the most to me was the originality of the comic. It blends apocalypse with sea monsters with alien life. I don’t know what else you could ask for. I also enjoyed the fact the catalyst behind the entire event seems to relate to marine pollution and ecological disturbance. It gives the comic a more modern perspective and some relevancy towards current environmental situations.
Is It Good?
Surface Tension provides an impressive debut for Jay Gunn as a first time creator. The concept is refreshingly original and Gunn fills the pages with lively art and wonderfully imaginative creations. As one of Titan’s more anticipated series, Surface Tension certainly meets its expectations and then some.