A Look at Low, Volumes 1 through 4

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Sebastian the Crab was dead wrong when he said everything was better under the sea. It’s not a bunch of dancing fish and singing crustaceans like Disney would like for you to believe.

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No, it’s nothing quite so nice as all that. It’s more like hordes of deep sea pirates out for your blood, aquatic abominations that want to eat your face, and corrupt leaders who want to keep hope and morale, well, “low”. (You just knew that pun was gonna be used somewhere in this review. May as well get it out of the way now.) 😉

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So, for something a wee bit different, I’ve decided to go ahead and review the first 4 volumes of Low in this one post, rather than review them each separately. The main reason for this, is that I experienced very mixed feelings while reading this series. As I’ve mentioned before, Low wasn’t one of those reads that I was head-over-heels in love with upon finishing the first volume. In fact, if my boyfriend hadn’t already bought the three other volumes, I probably would have ceased reading this series altogether. I hate to say that because I had really been looking forward to reading it and I enjoyed the overall concept, just not the execution, I suppose. It’s always a bummer when you feel like you wanted to like something so much more than you actually did, and that’s exactly how I was left feeling. Fortunately, this series improved dramatically as I continued reading it. Volume 1 may have been a rough start, and definitely my least favorite of the four volumes, but I’m glad I carried on and continued reading the story.

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Low, Vol. 1: The Delirium of Hope introduces us to a grim future for humankind where, due to the sun’s lethal radiation, humans have been forced to live in the dark abyss of the world’s oceans. It’s been a very long time since humans left the surface behind, and resources are dwindling to the point of no return as we meet our central characters, the Caine family. This is a very busy volume with a LOT going on, and also the longest of the four installments. So, let’s get into the nitty-gritty of it and talk pros and cons regarding this particular volume.

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PROS:

  • A really cool concept. The whole post-apocalyptic science fiction set in the deep, dark vastness of our oceans had me completely psyched to read this.
  • The artwork and colors are lovely. Greg Tocchini (the artist) and Dave McCaig (the colorist) do a good job bringing to life the beauty and oftentimes horror of the world and characters that Rick Remender (the writer) has created.

CONS:

  • This series does have some decent character development overall, but I wasn’t feeling it whatsoever in this first volume. One character in particular has a complete moral shift in gears and character change over the course of a time hop so we’re given like no actual evidence of him growing or changing, he just does so between his last appearance and the next, and it’s honestly quite jarring.
  • Okay, I’m certainly no prude, I’ve generally got no issues with sex and nudity, but this was just . . . a bit much. Tons of female nudity and abuse, women being used for sex and then having extreme violence inflicted on them immediately after, orgies everywhere, etc. A lot of the outfits the female characters wear seem like they were designed that way simply because “tits” and “ass”. Again, this complaint is coming from someone who doesn’t typically shy away from mature content, but the male gaze was sooo prevalent in this one.
  • There’s an overall “always have hope” message in Low, and it felt especially preachy in this volume. It left me feeling like I’d had it hammered in my face over and over and over again. I get that it’s a good message to put out there, but the sheer repetitiveness of it was maddening at times.

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Low, Vol. 2: Before the Dawn Burns Us is where the series begins to get get a little better, in my opinion. In this installment, we see some of the bigger complaints I had with the start of Low slowly begin to simmer down. I also began feeling more invested in the characters and what was going on. The stakes are getting higher, and we get to learn more about different characters and different places with their own big bads. I found myself going from not liking Low by the end of the first volume, to liking it by the end of this one. Was I in love with the series at this point? No, but I did like it.

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Low, Vol. 3: Shore of the Dying Light is, without a doubt, the volume that I liked the most. Tensions are on the rise and there’s a lot at risk in this installment. Also, it is hands down the volume with the least blatant overuse of pointless female nudity which, I’m sorry, has been a real issue for me through this series. You can tell the intentions are for several of the characters to be represented as strong female characters, but I can’t help but feel that it is a little undermined when you randomly have one of those characters in a fight scene in volume 2 where she’s suddenly totally topless because reasons. I mean, come the hell on. Volume 3 was a nice reprieve from this sort of thing.

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Low, Vol. 4: Outer Aspects of Inner Attitudes takes us back to some of the events that went down in volume 1 and reveals something pretty interesting and story-changing events that unfolded. There’s plenty of action in this one and some trickery and surprises. It leaves off on a point that has me curious to see where the story will go when volume 5 comes out. It’s not going to kill me to wait for it like it does with some other stories from Image.

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All in all, this series grew on me the more I read of it. I was curious to see what others were thinking of Low overall, so I looked up other reviews and they really varied. Some people loved volume 1 the most and felt it never really reached that high again, but I felt volume 1 was the worst of the lot and that it only improved from there. A lot of people felt the same way I did about all the gratuitous female nudity. Yes, there was some male nudity as well, but it was like a light breeze compared to a hurricane. Most people, like myself, were fans of the artwork, but some found it muddy and hard to follow at points. So, it seems this series is a real mixed bag for people. Have you read Low? Do you have plans to read the series? I’d absolutely love to see what you think of it. 🙂

If I had to give a star rating for each volume of this series it would go as such:

Volume 1: The Delirium of Hope: 2.5 out of 5 stars

Volume 2: Before the Dawn Burns Us: 3 out of 5 stars

Volume 3: Shore of the Dying Light: 4 out of 5 stars

Volume 4: Outer Aspects of Inner Attitudes: 3 out of 5 stars

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18 thoughts on “A Look at Low, Volumes 1 through 4”

  1. Awesome post! I’ve enjoyed reading it. 🙂

    I’ve seen Low on the shelf a couple of times when I look around the comic book section, at my local book shop a few times now. Although I’ve never had any interest to pick it up, as I tend to get distracted by other comic books.

    The concept sounds pretty cool, I kinda like the idea of humanity going down into the sea in the future, rather than space colonisation. However, the books complaints have put me off looking into Low, it doesn’t appeal to me tbh.

    But overall, I liked your views and thoughts on the series. 🙂

    If your interested for suggestions on other comic books, I have a few recommendations below:
    •Slàine (2000ad publication)
    •A.B.C Warriors (2000ad publication)
    •Savage (2000ad publication)
    •Defoe (2000ad publication)

    You might need to do a tiny bit of research on some of the titles, as some go back way into the 80’s and 90’s. However, they are nonetheless great titles to read. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! 🙂 I really appreciate your feedback. This was a tough review to do because there were things I liked about it and it had such an overall cool concept, but I just wasn’t into it like I had hoped to be.
      And thank you so much for the comic suggestions! 😀 I just started researching them (starting with Slàine, which sounds pretty cool.) I like that it is partially based off of Irish mythology. Also, I was really excited to see that a band I listen to apparently named themselves after a villain from this comic (Slough Feg!) 😀 Definitely going to keep researching these and hopefully get to check them out some time. Thanks again! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m glad that I could help out! 🙂

        Since posting my last comment, I’ve had a quick look at the first volume of Low to see if I would be interested in buying it in the future. Whilst the art is spectacular, and the world that the fiction takes place in is interesting (concept is interesting too!), I did however realise that the faults you’ve mentioned were on point. I think the price point is an issue too, Vol 3 and four were more expensive than the first volume. Not sure if the page count were the same or less, but the paperbacks looked a lot thinner.

        Glad I could help! 🙂 you’ll have tons of fun with researching slàne, there’s like 30-40 years worth of material to read. The writer for Slàne, Pat Mills (who’s worked on Slàne and A.B.C Warriors) has done a lot of work over the years for 2,000ad. From what I’ve read from his works, he has quickly become one my favourite comic book writers.

        I’d recommend reading the Horned God, it’s got a fantastic story line with interesting and varied characters, gorgeous colour art (by Simon Bisley) and some interesting lore.

        I’ve never heard of a band called Slough Feg, I’ll give it a listen! 🙂

        Another recommended comic book is Invasion by 2,000ad, it’s before Savage, which starts the story on the Volgan invasion on Britain.

        No problem, glad I could help! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Thanks! That’s good to know about The Horned God! 😀 I appreciate the nod in the right direction. And thanks for the awesome recommendations!
        I hadn’t realized that the second and third volume of Low were more expensive than the first. That blows my mind because, like you said, they’re definitely way smaller than volume 1 is.
        Slough Feg is really good. 🙂 I think Hardworlder is my favorite album by them.

        Like

  2. It’s going to be a while too. It’s got a really sporadic release schedule. Last issue came out in Summer. Still no word on when exactly it’s returning. Some time this year.

    I like it too though. Not my favorite thing ever by Remender, but it’s a very original and unpredictable story at least.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s good to know about the release dates, thanks! 🙂
      Yeah, I’ll definitely be checking out more of Remender’s stuff to see what I think. I officially added Deadly Class to my TBR list after you previously mentioned how good it was, and I’m going to give Black Science a try, too. 🙂

      Like

  3. Have I ever told you how much I love your reviews? I LOVE them so much. Like that intro with Sebastian was brilliant and hilarious. And that bit about deep sea pirates and aquatic abominations? I personally think that makes under the sea better 😁
    I probably wouldn’t read this anytime soon ( I still have Giant Days on my tbr) but thanks for sharing! I like the comic and graphic novel reviews you post on here! 😄

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Aw, thank you so much! ❤ Reading that totally made my day. 😀
      Giant Days is so much fun. I'm glad you have it on your TBR list. 🙂 I got volumes 4 and 5 of Giant Days for Christmas and can't wait to read them.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. One of my reading challenge topics is graphic novels and I’ve been looking around to see what to read. I’m super overwhelmed. I figured I’ll continue with Attack on Titan, cuz i started it last year. Then i thought maybe Saga.
    But this one looks awesome as well and after your review i of course wanna read it 😂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I really want to read Attack on Titan, too! 😀 I love the anime and have been wanting to check out the manga.
      Yesssss! Saga is phenomenal. I definitely recommend it. Saga is one of those series that seems to be universally loved (and with good reason). And it’s awesome right from the very beginning, with characters you just can’t help but root for. 🙂
      Image actually puts out a lot of really great comics. Monstress and Rat Queens are both also really stellar titles from Image. Monstress is really dark, and beautifully illustrated, and Rat Queens is hilarious and really fun to read.

      Like

  5. I declared the first DNF for the very reasons in your cons. The “always have hope” idea seemed almost manipulative, and the character who kept purporting it annoyed the hell out of me. Don’t get me wrong, he son wasn’t better especially in the moral sense, but eternal optimism is such an unrealistic trait to me lol. I’m glad to hear they get better!

    Liked by 1 person

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