Underwinter #3 delivers more of the series’ signature omens of disaster, striking bird imagery, and unique art style. So, is it good?
Writer/Artist: Ray Fawkes
Publisher: Image Comics
I’ll start by discussing the art. As per usual, writer/artist Ray Fawkes’ striking visuals are the highlight of the issue. This is the kind of issue that one could pick up off the stand, flip through, and instantly want to buy. Fawkes’ painting style is unique amongst major company books being published right now, and it stands out for all the right reasons. As with previous issues, Fawkes’ work contains large amounts of white space, which helps make the colors pop while avoiding the cliché that horror has to mean dark, muddy colors. It’s also worth noting that the heavy use of white sometimes adds a sensation akin to fog, like we’re only seeing what Fawkes wants us to see. The series’ air of mystery is alive and well in this issue, as is Fawkes’ creativity. From his visual representations of drunkenness to a stunning last page, Fawkes delivers some of the story’s best artwork thus far in this issue.
Fortunately, the writing is also strong. The issue begins with a short scene focused on Marantha, which is nice given that he hasn’t received much development thus far. The opening sequence also helps move the plot (and general sense of dread) along as we get more concrete information on how long we might have until the upcoming disaster hits.
Each member of the starring quartet also gets some page-time this issue. Of particular note is Corben, who seems to be spiraling toward disaster even faster than his fellow musicians. Elenor and Kendall star in another scene that is a bit of a mixed bag. On one hand, their events are fairly well-done, but they also feel a little bit underdeveloped. Thus far, we haven’t gotten as strong a sense of Elenor’s motivations as I would have liked. Meanwhile, Stephanie continues to reflect back on family troubles. Again, her scenes aren’t bad, they just pale in comparison to Corben and Marantha’s. Hopefully the characters’ personal dramas will become a bit more interesting as the horror intensifies in future issues.
When I say that certain parts were less interesting than others, I’m not saying that the lesser portions were boring. It feels like I’m judging on a curve, where the high points are so high that merely good work feels a little more disappointing by default. With that said, the story had my undivided attention from beginning to end, and the relationship between the writing and artwork was exceptional. Fawkes’ page layouts are superb, as the transitions from panel to panel feel perfectly paced. The artistic choices contribute just as much to the narrative as the script does. Although some of the middle scenes could have been more memorable, the beginning and ending scenes were fantastic and built momentum for what’s yet to come. This is a great issue, fully worth its price-tag.