September 28, 2018

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Vault Week: Submerged #1 and #2

Written by Vita Ayala
Line Art by Lisa Sterle and Ted Brandt
Color Art by Stelladia 
Letterer: Rachel Deering

Ah, yes.. the all-too-familiar story of the older sibling coming to the rescue of the always-in-trouble delinquent baby brother. Is it really all that familiar though? Or is it told so many times over that we overlook the nuanced surroundings that encapsulate our existence? I'm not certain that I personally hold the credentials to answer this self-evaluating supernatural inquisition, so let's just pass Vita the mic. 

Vita Ayala has conjured up quite a journey here within her new comic, Submerged, but (full disclosure) when it was first introduced as an upcoming new title for Vault comics my initial reaction was difficult to ignore. I am a horrible person when I become busy and time is of the essence, which was exactly what this comic fell victim to. My brain had a quick stroke of ignorant assumption laced with knee jerk attitudes of missed opportunities. As I read pre-release excite-and-hype columns about this comic they left me a bit lackluster with excitement. Nothing seemed suited for my genre specific brand that often leaves my hindsight in desperation as I regret missing the earlier buy-in on so many other titles. Against my better judgement I ignored my intuitions and found myself to be just what I had described earlier: a Jerk (capital J) assuming way too much about a specific comic I hadn't yet read that deserved to be read before the critique had been calculated. 

I digress.  

Vault has been consistently printing some of the better comics since it came onto the stands. They have produced many imaginative and under-appreciated titles early on such as Failsafe and Heathen, to the more recent ones like Wasted Space and the now-on-comic-stands Fearscape, all of which deserve way more press and attention than they have gotten on their own. These are stories that make you come back for more, like a simple boy loyal to his brand. Submerged is one of these to add to the ever-evolving list of genres for a comic publishing company not even finished with its second year of publications. 

Submerged is a good time. It immediately places us in the footsteps of Ellie as she begins retreating to her apartment to end her night alone with nothing much else to do but catch up on her many voicemails as she decompresses in solitude. Coming as no surprise other than Ellie herself she ended her personal listening party hearing her brother, Angel, explain another troubled situation he had found himself in. As she stumbles out to find him she discovers the plain possibility that he had mysteriously gone missing on the eve of the biggest storm these characters have ever known.


Ellie is a frustrated sister that resents certain aspects of her past that involve her mother. Those frustrations are intricately woven throughout the narrative as washed out filtered flashbacks sprinkled among the rich and dark pages of the scavenger hunt for her brother. Anyone with a parental figure can utilize most any memory to bridge comparison so that a relating fraction could resonate between reader and page. These subtle interconnections assist to make this story worth a recommend. The setting of scene, the character development, and the pacing are all modestly held back so that we aren't overwhelmed with the chaos amidst the building of the foundation to the story being set.  
The story reaches far back into the psyches of the characters as it takes us deep into the tunnels of the earth as we help Ellie search for Angel. 

If the slow pacing and dense character development are any indicator with Submerged one could only assume with high certainty that it will have similar payoff as its predecessor with another name. This comic wants to be spookier and it wants it bad, and at some point even though I see it coming I probably will still feel my spine shiver when payoff finally arrives. It has my attention and I am along for the ride until the very end. With the story developing at a pace begging to burst out of its seams, and art to match the intentions of the edge-of-your-seat fright, we are on verge of having another star performance from another up-and-coming. Look out, here comes Vita!

As I gather my thoughts here I feel the need to recommend this slow paced, but intriguingly interesting development happening. Submerged easily gets an 8/10 from me and is worth a checking out from anyone seeking a comic that seems lighthearted on the surface, but feels that it could jump right out toward you at any moment and scare the living Tom Waits from your soul.  

There's a bit of a line developing, Ms. Ayala, but go ahead and take my money now.

- ArgyleEater