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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Monstress, Vol. 2: The Blood (Review)

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How the heck did I forget to review this one after I read it way back in August?? I’m seriously stumped on this one, but I guess I’m gonna have to chalk it up to what my boyfriend and I refer to as “squirrel brain”. After reading and reviewing the first volume of Monstress, I had been really excited about getting to learn more about the dark and intriguing war-torn world and story of our protagonist, Maika Halfwolf. The artwork in volume 2 is just as gorgeous and detailed as that of volume 1 and the story drew me in right off the bat. In fact, I think I may have enjoyed volume 2 even more than I did the first one, and that’s saying something because I absolutely loved volume 1.

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As I mentioned in my review for volume 1, this is a story that unravels bit by bit and often leaves the reader with a lot of questions. Volume 2 follows Maika and her companions as they do whatever it takes to learn the truth regarding her past.

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Aaaaand we get pirates this go around, so if you already weren’t on board, get your butts in gear, people!

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Oh, and did I mention there are UNICORNS?!?!

As I’ve talked about before, Monstress is a very dark story with lots of violence and lots of swearing. That isn’t something that bothers me, but it’s just something I like to forewarn people about since I know some people are sensitive to it and whatnot.

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Maika Halfwolf, our protagonist and resident potty mouth.

I’d previously gushed about how much I enjoyed the worldbuilding in volume 1, and volume 2 simply expands on that, making me love it all the more. I’ve seriously never seen this level of worldbuilding in comic-form before and it just continues to blow me away. I can’t wait to see what volume 3 will bring to the table. 🙂

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Wytches, Vol. 1 (No-Spoiler) Review

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Happy October, everybody!! ❤ This is my favorite time of the year, so expect plenty of horror and Halloween related posts this month. To kick things off, I figured we’d start with a review of the first volume of Wytches. I’d heard some really good things about this comic and it did not let me down. In fact, it wound up being even cooler than I expected, with some really interesting twists on the conventional “witches” of some of our darker fairy tales of old.

The way this story beautifully unfolds the further you get into it kind of makes it hard to gush about without spoiling anything, but I’ll do my best. Although this is definitely a gritty horror story, the heart of it revolves around family, specifically the bond between a father and his daughter. It’s great because it doesn’t try to present a “perfect family”, but rather one with flaws but where there is genuine love. They definitely have their ups and downs. It made the characters and the world they live in feel more genuine, despite the supernatural hellish nightmare going on all around them.

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This is, in my opinion, a really creative spin on witches (or “wytches” as they are called in the story) and witch hunting. It isn’t just a “burn the witch!” sort of thing, with the story even addressing some of the all-too-real witch hysteria that plagued our own history. The way these ancient wytches have managed to survive all these years was pretty interesting, too. You can tell Scott Snyder put a lot of thought into this when coming up with and writing the story. I want so badly to go into all the little details that I enjoyed, but I feel it’s better for people to learn them as they go along. I’m just a sucker for all those cool little tidbits authors come up with when worldbuilding.

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All in all, volume 1 was a great introduction to the story and I really wish there was already a volume 2 out so I could read that as well. This was a solid horror comic and one I look forward to reading more of one day. 🙂

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Looking forward to sharing lots of horror/Halloween posts with you guys this month, and talking about tons of beasties and things that go bump in the night! 😀

Review- Birthright, Vol. 1: Homecoming

Having just read and enjoyed volume 1 of Birthright, I figured I’d take a moment to share some thoughts on this lovely graphic novel that I went into so blindly.

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You know how sometimes you read a story and you can literally guess everything that is going to happen before it actually happens?

Not this story.

Admittedly, I had the benefit of going into this knowing nothing about it. I was laying on my boyfriend’s couch and asked him for something to read and he went to his bookshelf, plucked this one from his collection and handed it to me, no explanation offered.
I enjoyed this epic fantasy greatly. It had multiple twists and nice worldbuilding with interesting fantasy races and creatures. I would definitely be interested in continuing the series. The art was wonderful as well.

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It’s a quick read, so it is easy to finish in just one sitting but it gets the job done in that amount of time, leaving the reader satisfied but still eager to read more.