By Steve Orlando & Artyom Trakhanov
The final installment in the preliminary run of Undertow seemed to be a well-executed finale. There was a lot of action, adequate story resolution, and an extra few pages at the end to pique readers’ interest for the future of this title. Unfortunately, the general comprehension of each event in this issue was mired in confusion. This had very little to do with the writing and was largely a consequence of the artwork. More on this later…
Steve Orlando had a terrific story going here, and most of issue #6 seems to be well-written; there are some terrific lines of dialogue scattered throughout the book. There also seemed to be a decent ending provided which brought together the recently disparate cast of characters. The final joint assault was action-packed and filled with bloody retribution. As previously mentioned though, it was difficult to get a strong grasp of what precisely transpired and who exactly did what.
This was mostly due to the wildly-stylized visuals by Artyom Trakhanov. It’s a confusing sentiment to walk away with; the art looks really interesting, while simultaneously diminishing the overall clarity of the story. The rough, gritty illustrations look cool and suit the relatively grim plot, and the creative colors are quite unlike any other series out there. This series has a distinctly unique appearance, but a lot of detail is lost in the ever-changing visual scheme of the book. In short, clarity of story is sacrificed for visual style. While this was a minor concern earlier in the series, it has become increasingly difficult to follow. This was unfortunate for a final installment as telling characters apart became difficult and following the action was similarly confounded.
For a story that showed a ton of promise in the beginning, the admittedly interesting and eye-catching visual style employed in Undertow #6 made this finale a tough one. It seems like the general plot worked out for the best in the end, but it would have been a much more enjoyable read if it were easier to follow. A re-read of this one will certainly be in order, probably going back to the very beginning and taking extra care to familiarize yourself with each character name for better accessibility in the later books.