Sometimes people can reach such heights of melancholy that they just disappear, and where they end up in is a dark, endless town of sadness called Green Wake, wherein a great many of the inhabitants eventually start to loose themselves and transform into froglike creatures. Taking it upon themselves to help new arrivals to settle in, Morley and Krieger’s job becomes much harder when the latest arrival coincides with Green Wake’s very first murder; but nothing is as it seems in this lonely town, so to get to the bottom of the situation they must find out about the very nature and meaning of the place they live.
Originality is a wonderful thing and something that, as times goes along, is harder to come across in a pure form. There is of course much originality to be mined from the minutiae of well-trodden storylines and genres, as seems to be the speciality of the entertainment business at the moment, but things that feel like a whole new thing are pretty few and far between.
Green Wake, from newcomer writer Kurtis Wiebe (The Intrepids), artist Riley Rossmo (Cowboy Ninja Viking, Daken: Dark Wolverine) and Image Comics’ Shadowline imprint, manages to be entirely original with its concept and environmental backdrop while comfortably sitting in the familiar realms of the crime-noir genre.
To give away spoiler details of the plot would be to detract from one of the great pleasures of reading Green Wake, as coming at the material completely fresh and totally unaware of what to expect from this story ads an extra dimension of immersion that is particularly rare in any forms of entertainment these days. Where just from the general nature or place of origin of a film or comic or book, you can usually guess in what diction things are going to pan out, with Green Wake you are learning the rules and lay of the land as part of the story, so at no time have a clue as to what is going to occur, never mind how or why.
Wiebe weaves an intriguing mystery, not just with the murder elements of the story, but with the entire concept of the world of Green Wake too. We, the reader, are as eager to discover the workings of the town as the new arrivals are, and then why all the inhabitants came to be there in the first place. This multiple angle approach to the mystery lends itself to a well-paced and constantly moving story, but to a small degree comes at the cost a characterisation. The central character of Morley is well rounded, back-story and all, but many of the other characters seems to be less so, though, with the book set for another series this could be intentional. This is a minor qualm however, as the world that has been built as the backdrop for the story is fresh, atmospheric and, come the conclusion, makes some kind definite esoteric sense. This is all possible in no small part to the work of artist, Riley Rossmo.
Rossmo, acting as colourist as well and penciler and inker, has a fairly strange style that some may not get along with but is perfect for this type of material. Those who have seen his past work will know that Rossmo has a dirty, inky style meshed with themed colour schemes that blend together to for what I can only describe as scratch psychedelic-noir. While his characters and design have a cartoony edge a la Art Adams, his overall finishes bare more in common with Bill Sienkiewicz. I find myself curious as to how his anatomy and detailing would stand up to a more cleanly presented piece, but as it stands his approach to art only adds to the depth of history and mythology within the story.
Successfully mixing fantasy with crime-noir, Green Wake is highly recommended to fans of both genres, but also to anyone up for something truly different and really quite enjoyable.
A grade – for originality
B+ grade – for storytelling
B grade – for artwork
Overall grade – B+