“Green Wake” is a mystifying comic, in all the good ways. Filled with enigmas and murders, it’s a different kind of detective tale than we usually get in comics, blending the best elements of detective, horror, thriller, and something like dreaming.
In this issue of “Green Wake,” our protagonists, Morley and Kreiger, continue on the trail of Ariel, their murder suspect for the first body ever found in Green Wake (at least in their time there). In the process of tracking Ariel, they find another body and enlist the reluctant help of Ariel’s ex, Carl, a new resident of Green Wake. A visit with the mayor (an oldest resident of Green Wake) reveals something shocking about the most numerous residents of Green Wake, the frogs. How that ties into the bodies they’ve found is intriguing, and more than a little creepy.
Kurtis Wiebe’s writing is, for the most part, lovely and restrained in all the right ways. He gives the town of Green Wake and all its citizens a great noir feel combined with something that’s almost like a fairy tale, though definitely a dark one. The writing is quite beautiful and poetic at times, but also functional and pared down; Wiebe knows just when the style should shift from one to the other, as the story slides between a gritty detective story, and a dreamlike mystery. My sole complaint at this point is that the what and why of Green Wake is still a bit obscure for two issues in. It’s entirely possible that that is a deliberate choice, and one that will pay off (as the frogs reveal does in this issue) but some of it feels deliberately obscure and mysterious, which can be a turn off when played out for too long. I’m happy for the mysteries of Green Wake to be revealed organically within the flow of the story, but I don’t want them deliberately stretched out to make things more confusing. Time will tell which one Wiebe is doing, but for now, so much is working well here I’m inclined to trust him.
Riley Rossmo’s art here is moody and evocative, a perfect match for Wiebe’s gritty mysterious world of Green Wake. The style is somewhere between Ben Templesmith and Brett Weldele, relying heavily on lights and darks within a very limited color palette, with punches of bright color for maximum effect. The feeling of the book is cohesive and well fleshed out, the world building complete and comprehensive. There’s confidence in Rossmo’s art that allows him to be sketchy and loose in his depictions, without ever being unclear in his storytelling. Rossmo gives Green Wake and all of its inhabitants a very distinctive and compelling look that is a visual treat.
We need more comics like “Green Wake:” smart and mysterious, beautiful and well considered. It’s a book that will leave you thinking and wondering about it long after you put it down, the mark of a great comic.