The world of writer Rick Remender and artist Greg Tocchini’s “Low” is heading towards a fiery end. The people of Earth have fled below the surface of the ocean to escape the radiation and fire of the ever expanding Sun as it devours the universe. They have spent centuries searching for some new planet to inhabit before theirs ultimately ends. The world is almost certain to die and hope gone except for one, Stel Caine the last defender of hope in this ever-dying world.
The story in “Low” builds from Remender’s childhood fears of the inevitable destruction of the Earth and all life on it by the expanding Sun as it goes supernova. As he searched for a project to work on with Tocchini he spent time figuring out how humans could survive this outcome. From that he was able to build the premise of the new sci-fi series from Image Comics.
“Low” #1 starts with the worst day in the lives of the Caine family, the last of the helmsman tasked with providing for their underwater city Salus. This is where Remender’s personal view of optimism comes in. The character of Stel Caine is a new take on a hero for Remender one who is filled with eternal optimism.
The result of Remender mixing fear with optimism creates a deeply personal story. The characters in the Caine family feel real as they squabble and discuss what life is like hiding from the Sun. Stel’s character in particular does view the world in a positive manner even though the world around her is crumbling. But it is not distasteful optimism but a view that helps her deal with the problems of life to overcome hardship and persevere. It is a great basis for a strong character.
Tocchini’s artwork captures the look of this underwater city Salus. As many millennia have passed since the people of Earth had to flee, in the city you can see the technological advancements showing what life has become. The artwork immerses you within this world making it feel real.
The look of Tocchini’s artwork is stylized and the dark colors on the pages do not always get the meaning of the narrative across. But a closer look and taking in the full detail of what Tocchini is rendering adds a depth to the story that is not there on a quick read of the issue. The style of the artwork creates for an enveloping story that you need to get inside.
For sci-fi stories to be successful they need a personal touch that grounds the fiction in reality. Remender uses old anxieties mixed with a new found positivity to create that personal connection to the story and lead character. Tocchini adds depth to the story with beautiful art. The story of “Low” is just beginning but the setting provides an excellent backdrop for the creators to explore the character of Stel Caine and how she deals with desperate circumstances.
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