The new Low is finally here! And…it’s not the story I think any of the regular readers were expecting after the ending of the third arc in issue #15. If you haven’t read issue #15 yet I won’t spoil it for you, but know that Remender continues his masochistic spree of building up hope only to then brutally crush it into oblivion. I foolishly held the idea that things might actually improve for Stel and her family. Silly me!
Low #16 (Image Comics)
The official Image synopsis:
“NEW STORY ARC “OUTER ASPECTS OF INNER ATTITUDES,” Part One As a gladiator, Marik Caine brought the light of hope into the one of the darkest corners of the ocean before that darkness swallowed him whole. Now, a new hero arises from the fighting pits of Poluma to carry on Marik’s legacy.”
It’s important to note that this story is akin to a #1 issue for a new series in that it doesn’t progress the current story at all and is here purely for setup. I personally found this frustrating after the massive cliff Remender left us hanging on in issue #15, but given how utterly fantastic the series has been thus far, I’m willing to withhold critical judgement for the time being.
The fourth arc opens with a flashback tale from Low Vol 1: The Delirium of Hope. We’re taken back to a transition period that specifically focuses on Malik, Stel, Zem and a new character that was never presented to us during the first arc, IO. Malik and his mother Stel were captured by pirates and Malik was forced to participate in rigged gladiator games with his companions. The majority of the time Malik spent being a gladiator was shown to us in a montage of time passing, with the in-between left to the readers imagination. That’s where this story takes place.
Malik is one of my favorite characters from Low and I still miss him dearly, so I was really pleased to receive another story centered around him. IO is introduced as a new character who proves to be so much more than he appears. I was a bit confused during the first half of the story but by the end things came together for me. The implications of IO’s true identity could prove to be huge to the future of the series. I love the possibilities that are available with who and what IO is revealed to be.
What’s there to say about Greg Tocchini’s work that hasn’t been said by this point? The man knocks it out of the freaking park in every single issue. I’m in love with his style. Pairing him with Dave McCaig is a match made him heaven. As per usual every page is stunningly beautiful and brings this post-apocalyptic dystopian world to life.
I do have to make note of the breathtaking work on facial expressions in this issue. There’s a brief but powerful moment between Malik and Tajo that wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for Tocchini’s truly exceptional skill.
The story is relatively short but manages to pack in plenty of action, violence and colorful language. The balance in the writing is beautifully put on display. I’m always impressed with Remender’s ability to mix a deeper philosophical message of hope with giant sea monsters, pirates and gladiators. IO could mean a lot to the overall story–either way, it shows me that Remender’s not even close to being out of original ideas.