Underwinter #1 kicked off the series with beautiful art, an intriguing narrative, and a stunning last page. Does this second issue maintain that great momentum?
The issue starts strong with more of writer/artist Ray Fawkes’ ominous exposition displayed overtop of watercolor architecture, trees, and characters. This opening scene acknowledges the spoiler-heavy events from the end of the previous issue, and generates expectation that more development of those plot points is to come.
Writer: Ray Fawkes
Artist: Ray Fawkes
Publisher: Image Comics
Unfortunately, we don’t get as much plot development as one might wish in this issue. Most of the issue is divided into character-specific sections, all but one of which center around a member of the musical quartet. We get some hints of past troubles and other emotional concerns from each character, but these don’t feel like enough. Each character only gets between two and four pages for their segment, and I was left wanting more.
With that said, there’s still a lot of great stuff happening here. Besides some odd compositional choices (i.e. splash pages depicting images that don’t feel significant enough to warrant their own full pages), the art remains stellar. Fawkes’ watercolor style is gorgeous. What splash pages do feel warranted by their content are beautifully rendered and impactful. There are a number of symbols that Fawkes weaves throughout the issue, both visually and narratively, and he puts them to great use. He also does a great job visually establishing characters’ personalities (especially Stephanie’s), and when it comes to effective placement and definition of foreground versus background, he’s one of the best artists currently in the business.
While the characters’ individual segments don’t feel long enough, it is still nice to see Fawkes show us glimpses of who the various characters are when they are going about their everyday lives outside of horror situations. Eleanor’s segment in particular raises interesting questions that I hope will be further explored in future issues. Though I wish each character had received more page-time, all of the mini-scenes do a great job of establishing the various cast members’ personalities. Each character feels distinct; no member of the cast is easy to mistake for any of the others.
Ultimately, this is a great issue. What problems I have with certain compositional choices and not enough happening are largely made up for by what actually happens. Things move a bit more slowly than desired, but the pace picks up at the end, and hopefully future issues will continue that momentum. This issue isn’t quite as riveting at the one that came before it, but it’s still a very well- painted story that introduces various interesting themes and symbols effectively. This series considers to be worth your time.