REVIEW: ‘Underground’

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Underground

Underground is published by Oni-Lion Forge, written by Jeff Parker, art by Steve Lieber, colors by Ron Chan, and letters by Steve Lieber. Seth and Wesley are Park Rangers in the small Kentucky town of Meran. With the town struggling to make ends meet, one local businessman wants to open up a local cave formation, turning it into a tourist attraction. But Wesley is concerned about the damage it would do to the cave formation and its fragile ecosystem. But as the topic is debated, it seems someone may want to tip the scales of the situation in their favor. And when Seth and Wesley stumble upon the plot, they soon find themselves being chased through the cave system, not knowing where the end of their journey may lead.

While the piece of Underground’s synopsis that is most likely to catch a reader’s attention is the part about being chased through a cave, that isn’t really the book’s greatest strength. Despite the bulk of the story taking place in the cave with all its dangers, the real highlight of the story is how it delivers its two protagonists Wesley and Seth.

From the moment the reader is introduced to the duo, Seth and Wesley feel like a natural pair. Before their adventure in the cave, Parker does a great job of fully establishing the nature of their relationship by drawing them through a series of situations that provides a variety of moments for the writer to flesh out his leading characters quickly while also delivering a fluid and natural narrative for the story.

This quick, seamless construction of the main characters pays off big for Underground as the story enters its main focus within the cave. The previously established relationship helps the reader accept how well the two can lean on each other. Parker does a great job of writing the sequence in a way that feels real. With Wesley being an experienced caver, she must guide Seth through many of the harrowing moments they are presented with. Her dialogue in the most stressful of scenes feels like what a person would really say to coach someone through this sort of ordeal.

While Underground‘s writing delivers its characters skillfully, the art, unfortunately, falls short of delivering the tension and drama they are experiencing. Despite numerous tight squeezes and cramped situations, Lieber’s art never manages to fully convey the danger and sense of claustrophobia that the story needs. It’s not bad; it just doesn’t manage to drive the moments home.

The color work does a good job of helping build up the art’s delivery. With sequences in the cave delivered through limited colors, the feeling of being in low light conditions is greatly helped.

Finally, we have the lettering. Lieber’s letters generally do a good job of guiding the reader through the story clearly. With only one or two small placement hiccups, the narrative flows easily for the reader to follow.

When all is said and done, Underground delivers a story with a pair of wonderfully developed leads. The adventure they are forced on has a sense of grounded threat that gives the book a feeling of authenticity, even while not fully delivering the overall sense of danger.

Underground is available now wherever comics are sold.


Underground
3.5

TL;DR

When all is said and done, Underground delivers a story with a pair of wonderfully developed leads. The adventure they are forced on has a sense of grounded threat that gives the book a feeling of authenticity, even while not fully delivering the overall sense of danger.