Awakening Vol 1 & 2
Publisher: Archaia Entertainment
Writer: Nick Tapalansky
Artist: Alex Eckman-Lawn
Cover: Alex Eckman-Lawn
What do you do when the town crazy woman comes into your house trying to tell you that zombies were created by the company she used to work for? Well, if you’re retired police detective now P.I. Derrick Peters, you politely ask her to leave. However, certain parts of her story seem to connect (albeit thinly) to the case of the missing person that he’s working on, plus she was a witness to one of the murders. Over the next couple of days the arrival of a mysterious doctor sent by the Secretary of Defense, along with his team, begins to raise quite a few questions. Things are definitely not right in Park Falls, and as Peters digs for some answers, he’s pulled in a direction he really didn’t see coming.
I really wasn’t prepared for the type of story I was getting into with Awakening, and I’m so glad I was able to get both volumes at once. Nick knocks it out of the park in Volume 1 as you’re pulled into the madness bit by bit that’s spreading in Park Falls. The pacing is slow and steady, while building on itself and keeping you engrossed in the story and the characters involved. There were times I was pretty sure that I’d hate Peters, but during the story’s progression that opinion began to change, and he’s just as damaged as Cynthia, the crazy woman I mentioned earlier. Nick keeps you on edge as everyone is scrambling around trying to make sense of what’s going on, and it’s a nice interpretation of how we perceive things when fear and confusion take hold.
The artwork by Eckman-Lawn took a little getting used to for me, I’ll admit that. At times certain panels just fit perfectly with what was going on in the story and helped to keep the mood consistent. Then there were panels where there was just too much going on and it was too chaotic for me. If I had to describe the style, I’d have to say it was a cross between wood cuts, photorealism, and paints. I’m a little rusty on my art terms, so don’t crucify me if someone out there knows a bit more than myself. The panels that I did like made me feel uncomfortable at the same time, which definitely helped to make the story that much better.
In the end there is no way you will pick up Awakening Vol 1 without wanting to see how the story ends in Awakening Vol 2! And on that note….
A few months have passed and things are becoming very grim in Park Falls. People are being murdered left and right by what may or may not be zombies, and to make matters worse, someone has decided to take advantage and start committing his or her own murders. As if Peters didn’t have his hands full enough, his past has decided to catch up to him as well and pay a visit. Cynthia is becoming more erratic and feeling that no one is listening to her, and decides that she needs to take matters into her own hands. The doctor is becoming more and more frustrated at his failures to find a cause for all of this, and his superiors are being very cryptic in their communications.
Awakening Vol 2 is just as good as the first, and with the unexpected ending I was impressed even more. The pacing was a bit faster in this half, but not to the point where it distracted you from the actual story. By keeping the characters pretty much in the dark about what’s going on, Nick does the same to the reader, which kind of forces you to be patient. At times you can actually find yourself as frustrated as the doctor because you want to know what the hell is going on!
The visuals in this volume were a bit different than in the first. There was less of what I called the “wood-cut” style, which in my opinion was a good thing. I like being able to see the emotion of a character, especially in a story like this where it’s important to convey that visually as well as in the words. And the “wood-cut” visuals really didn’t do that for me in the first volume. Eckman-Lawn really does keep you a lot more immersed in Tapalansky’s story, especially towards the end as your emotions begin to reflect the town of Park Falls.
Instead of kicking the door down and giving you shock and awe, Tapalansky quietly comes in, sits down with you, and then begins to slowly peel back the layers of his story. And this is just fine with me. I count myself among some of the fortunate to have been able to pick up a copy of Awakening Vol 2 a bit earlier than the anticipated release, and if I knew the genre was putting out stuff like this I would have jumped into Horror a long time ago!