Advanced Comic Review: Green Wake #10By Andrew Leslie
Posted on February 21, 2012
When historians look back on a bygone era, only a handful of elements carry the cultural weight to represent the people of the time. In the early nineties those elements for some are grunge music, GenXer’s disillusionment and a lot of flannel, but for some one comic book encapsulated the emotion of growing up in America during those first few years of the last full decade of the twentieth century. That comic book was Image Comics’ The Maxx, by Sam Keith.
The Maxx somehow absorbed the underground youth movement of the time and, through an emotionally taught story and beautifully distinctive art, spat it all back to loyal readers each month. The beauty of the Maxx was in the pain the characters felt. That pain is something that the lost youth of the 90′s fluttered towards. Though the Maxx and Julie fought eyeless egg-shaped monsters in a primeval landscape created by Julie’s subconscious, the emotional core of the book made it more relateable than anything on TV or in film at the time.
Image Comics releases Green Wake #10 shortly, which prematurely ends the run of the series. Though it would be disingenuous to say that Green Wake also captured the essence of the the 2010′s, it accomplished another feat: just like the Maxx, the emotional core of Green Wake made it an intensely personal book. The chimerical setting of Green Wake houses characters whose traumas are so accurately mirrored in the real world, the juxtaposition makes you queasy.
Writer Kurtis Wiebe’s timeless portrayal of the people and town of Green Wake removes the nostalgically fugacious permanence the Maxx had, leaving the reader even more disoriented without a cultural compass to guide them. Going into too much detail would spoil the conclusion for some, but issue ten ends the series with a bit of resolution for Morley and company, though considering there won’t be an issue eleven, it seems moot. Morley and company all share the trauma of a life before Green Wake, a trauma so damaging that they hide from reality in this timeless town. The tragedies range from lost lovers, lost children and lost faith – the thematic treasure of loss is universal. We’ve all lost a loved one or a part of our selves that irrevocably scarred us, making the trek back to normalcy a precarious one. It is this universal trait that makes Wiebe’s writing in Green Wake one that will be missed by the select few who gravitated towards it.
Another parallel between the two comics is the art. When many stumbled upon the Maxx, Keith was a relative unknown in the comic world, but his distinctive artistic style quickly endeared him to many. Though the art in the Green Wake decalogy was probably not most reader’s first exposure to Riley Rossmo‘s art (previously drawing Proof), his portrayal of the town of Green Wake definitely opened critics’ and fans’ eyes again to his connotative power. Each character, landscape and creepy creature are redolent of something unsettling just beneath your own psyche that you can’t help but wonder if Rossmo’s peaking into your subconscious. There’s a baroque quality to Rossmo’s work that is simultaneously violently and poetic; and an apt description of the emotional state most go through in times of great loss.
In a fit of poetic justice, Green Wake, the ultimate metaphor for loss, will itself be a loss to literary and artistic world after next week as future issues are not planned. Both Rossmo and Wiebe have begun new projects (Rebel Blood, Peter Panzerfaust) and even have one in the works together (Debris), all from Image Comics, so this is not your last opportunity to enjoy their talents. Even so, Green Wake is most definitely a singular comic, like the Maxx, that will leave an indelible impression on those who read it and tried to understand it.