Title: Low #5
Writer: Rick Remender
Artist: Greg Tocchini
Publisher: Image Comics
Rating: 4 / 5
Whoa, what a difference four months can make!
When we last saw our intrepid duo of Stel and Marik, the former was being incarcerated and the latter was incapacitated, by a ruthless pirate killer and a flesh-and-blood sibling, respectively. How is Stel going to spin this one positively? Turns out she doesn’t need to: it’s being done for her.
Remender jumps ahead four months in issue five. Stel has been kept prisoner by Roln in the Third City. As she works tirelessly to keep up her strength and mind, Roln mocks her. What has become of Marik? He is now a gladiator, but not only that, he is a hero gladiator who has won 70+ victories in a row. The catch? Roln has orchestrated it all, using his telepathic brother who rigs the events by controlling the sea creatures. And if that wasn’t enough as it is, Roln tells all of this to Stel. It’s all been a big farce, a ploy of his to keep her hope up so he can rip it away. Their exchange is great and it further cements the ire between the two. If I had to guess, I don’t think Roln will be dying any time soon.
Meanwhile, Marik is a beaming warrior and champion of the people. That’s right, the same Marik who was so keen to whither and die a short four months ago is now persevering through the trials and hardships of nearly suffering a gruesome death every day. Finally his mother is rubbing off on him!
As for Tajo, it appears she might be more than just slighted by Marik’s words last issue and is more than happy to watch him die. Although the sister might be under additional sway than just the lack of a clear memory. Stel tries to be the catalyst to get her daughter to come around but it doesn’t work.
Tocchini’s sea creatures are, as ever, a gorgeous swath of massive limbs and terror. I think the greatest compliment I can give Tocchini is that he still manages to surprise me each issue, while still being able to keep me totally involved. I know what to expect, but it’s all fresh anyway.
Marik dispatches the gauntlet of creatures with a bit of overzealous gusto, taunting and quipping all the while. Is his confidence turning to hubris so soon after just a short four months? Of course, as usual, Roln gets the last laugh and we are left with a last panel of impending doom for Marik.
Issue six will bring the first arc of Low to a close and I for one could not be happier with the direction Remender is taking it. That being said, now that we have learned more of Salus, the Third City and a bit more history of Low‘s world, I hope Remender and Tocchini expand even further.
Review by Brent Gladney