Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Underground TP

Jeff Parker & Steve Lieber

This five-issue mini-series from writer Jeff Parker (Agents of Atlas, X-Men: First Class) and artist Steve Lieber (Whiteout, Civil War: Frontline) was recently collected, including a little "pilot episode" from Image Comics' Four Letter Worlds anthology.  The book follows two park rangers: Wes, who's new to town and has plenty of experience spelunking, and Seth, who grew up in the small town where Stillwater Cave resides.  While Wes adamantly opposes opening the cave to tourism and destroying the precious cave life, Seth sees the townfolk's point-of-view, as it would help to dispel the town's economic draught.  While they may not see eye-to-eye, these two get along, and are nursing a blooming romance.  When the book opens, a local business owner presses the idea of opening the cave to tourism, and goes to the extremes of hiring some men to detonate explosives in the cave to show its promise to a representative from the state department who's coming to town the next day.  When Seth catches the men in the act, he and Wes are consequently driven deep into the caves to escape from the armed men in a desperate bid for survival.  Along the way, they encounter walls of rock, high water and near misses in this fast-paced, claustrophobic read.  I think that Steve Lieber's artwork is what really makes this book work.  He had the experience on Whiteout and Whiteout: Melt to make a harsh environment come to life with the obstacles of making it look very cold, and also to make the art exciting when sometimes the pages would be just full of the white snow.  Here, he brings that same sort of technique to life in the opposite manner, having to use the sparse light from the character's flashlights and flares to force back the deep shadows of the cave.  It's a very dark book, lots of black, but the panels are expertly lit with shade.  And the action is really intense and often brutal, so the story just flies by.  Lieber paces the story with ease, drawing out tension, and making the protagonists' desperate plight come alive.  This is a top-notch thriller the likes of which doesn't come along too often in comicdom.

No comments: