Titan Comics’ Under: Scourge of the Sewer

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Titan Comics’ Under: Scourge of the Sewer #1 Review

Titan Comics’ Under: Scourge of the Sewer #1 Review

Well, folks, it’s time to head down under and I don’t mean Australia. Today’s review is going to focus on Titan Comic’s new graphic novel Under: Scourge of the Sewer #1. Authored by Italian comic writer Stefano Raffaele and French comic designer Christophe Bec, Under #1 was released on December 13, 2017.

Plot

So I have to admit, I expected something totally different. I don’t know why but for some reason, I pictured kobolds or something like that running amok under the streets of New York City. Instead, I was greeted with rather interesting take on the old urban legend of people flushing alligators and other exotic pets down the toilet, only for them to survive and terrorize city workers and homeless people.

The story is set in the city of Megalopolis, a huge modern metropolis with a seemingly unnecessary number of airships hanging in the sky. Megalopolis, for some weird reason I didn’t quite understand, has some seriously impressive sewers. Like on the level of Carlsbad Caverns impressive. They even have a police force dedicated to patrolling them and a population of homeless citizens divided into various clans that live there. Unfortunately, alongside them are a number of overgrown monstrosities that feed off the unwary and the unlucky—which is the basic premise of this work.

There is, of course, the usual cast of main character archetypes that you often see in stories like this.  We have the corrupt official (the mayor), the jaded cop (Jericho), the pretty but intelligent woman (Yeatman), and a slew of supporting characters such as the mercenary band (working for the mayor, of course) and the disadvantaged but brilliant underdog whose help is invaluable to the cause.

Now, I can forgive a lot in a story, comic, or graphic novel. One thing I cannot forgive, however, is a lack of research on the part of the author. So, rant incoming, ladies and gentleman.

The monster in this issue is a 30-foot tall camel spider. When it first appears, it’s silhouetted in shadow, venom dripping from its fangs.

Okay, no. No, no, no. This is a huge glaring example of poor research!

See, I love spiders. I’ve cared for a number of tarantulas and I’ve spent a fair amount of time studying various species for work purposes. Having lived the last nine years in the high desert of southern New Mexico, I’ve also seen my fair share of camel spiders (solifugae), more commonly known as sun spiders or wind scorpions.

While they are arachnids, solifugae are not true spiders. They are ferocious predators but they do not have fangs, they do not have silk glands (so they can’t spin webs or wrap their prey in silk like the one in the comic), and they do not inject their prey with dissolving venom (no venom glands). They do have a powerful set of jaws, though, and can deliver a pretty painful nip if you pick them up.

None of this is secret science, guys. Just do a quick Google search.

Now you might argue that “It’s a comic! It doesn’t have to be realistic!” Well, my darling, I beg to differ.

Rule one of world building states that if you are using a real world thing, it should perform according to real world expectations unless you have a solid reason for it not to do so. And then, the reasons behind these deviations should make sense to the reader.

Even with the supposed mutations that the creatures in the sewer undergo, there would have to be some significant biological changes in order for the camel spider in Under to do any of the things its shown doing in the comic—the development of venom glands, silk glands, and spinnerets for one, which camel spiders simply do not have. Second, the development of fangs—and not just any fangs but ones capable of both injecting and sucking up liquids.

With the vast number of panels showing desiccated bodies drained of fluids, of corpses wrapped in silk and hanging from the ceiling, and of bites inflicted by two fangs, the authors should have at least included something in the narrative indicating why these deviations in biology took place.

Rant over.

Artwork & Layout

In terms of the layout, the creators did a good job on this. It definitely serves its purpose, which is to draw the reader’s eye through the story in a logical manner. With clean line work and vivid color choices, the artwork really pops. For me, the comic has a rather lighthearted feel that’s more fun than frightening and I don’t get the impression that the creators meant for this work to take itself too seriously.

Final Thoughts

All in all, my issue with camel spider biology aside, Under is a bit of fast-paced fun in a pulp fiction style. It’s got all the makings of a gritty, if somewhat amusing, cryptid detective story.  I’m interested to see what might be coming in the second issue.

Creator Credits

Writer: Stefano Raffaele
Illustrator: Christophe Bec
Color: Christian Favrelle
Designer: Russell Seal
Art Director: Oz Browne
Editor: Lauren Bowes
Publisher: Titan Comics

Source – Titan Comics

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