Sea of Sorrows from IDW Publishing is a great example of a creative pairing who really seem to bring the best out of each. Following in the harrowing footsteps of Siberian thriller Road of Bones, Rich Douek and Alex Cormack are fast becoming one of those great combos thanks to this dark and foreboding tale set in the depths of the Atlantic ocean.
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Writer: Rick Douek
Artist: Alex Cormack, Justin Birch
Price: £1.59 per issue from ComiXology
Set aboard a diving ship in the Atlantic, Sea of Sorrows is your classic claustrophobic horror thriller in the vein of The Thing. It pits a group of navvy sailors against a crew of diving/salvage experts, all with their own motivations and character flaws. At the centre are diver Nick, first mate Sofia and a mysterious German survivor of the u-boat – who is the brains behind this mission to recover a submarine full of Nazi gold. But there is more going on beneath the waves than just sunken treasure!
Sea of Sorrows is one of those books where you can tell writer and artist work in synergy to tell the best story possible, rather than have one lead the other. Douek’s plot is tense and layered while his characters are complex and flawed. But the book would be nothing without Cormack’s dark and foreboding artwork. He perfectly manages to capture the dark, dankness of the ocean – in the same way Rory Donald did in the Griff Gristle books – and the colour or lack there of, gives it this grimy, wet feel to every page. This isn’t a colourful tranquil sea on a tropical island, this is the cold, murky world of the North Atlantic and Cormack captures this tone superbly – you almost feel like the pages should be dripping with water and stinking of salt as you read it.
Of course, with it being Alex Cormack, quite a few of the pages are also soaked in bloody violence, and Douek does a brilliant job of creating scenarios where Cormack can really cut loose and show his dark and twisted style to its best. (But always within the context of a good story!) While perhaps not as graphic as Sink, Cormack’s work has that exclamation point of extreme violence, and when he uses it is really in your face and graphic, all of which makes this into a challenging and stomach churning read and helps capture the real horror of the moments he is intending to shock with.
As with Road of Bones, Douek and Cormack manage to take a strong concept, and layer user-natural and horror elements on top to create a truly compelling story. Just as in Road of Bones, the readers see the supernatural element early on (and if you look at the covers on Comixology you can guess what the big secret is as well!), while the characters are still kept in the dark (almost literally thanks to Cormack’s gloomy artwork!) However Douek and Cormack do a superb job of ramping up the tension as crew members go missing and we attempt to piece together what we know along with worry about the fate of those involved.
Add to this the tension of being in a boat on the Atlantic or in a diving suit at the bottom of the ocean surrounded by sharks, and this makes for a superbly dark and atmospheric horror story. And one that should cement Douek and Cormack as one of most exciting, and terrifying, pairings in indie comics.