Low: The Delirium of Hope

Low Volume 1: The Delirium of Hope - Greg Tocchini, Rick Remender

This is another one of those collections I thought would be a bullseye and ended up missing the mark for me. I originally picked up Low because I thought the concept of a far-future Earth, where humanity has receded into the ocean depths, was really interesting. And as a bonus it has a female protagonist. Flipping through the pages the art was stunning. I was excited to dig into this one. Unfortunately this book has a lot of problems.


The art remains an aesthetic highlight for me with this title, but even it has some issues. While the style is gorgeous it is occasionally so busy it's difficult to distinguish what is happening. Sometimes it's hard to even tell who is who from one panel to the next. (It reminded me of Pretty Deadly - lovely, but confusing.) And then there are the women. This book makes some serious blunders when it comes to gender politics. The women are consistently sexualized both in how they are drawn and dressed (or not dressed as is often the problem), as well as the situations they are put in. There's a rapey vibe in numerous scenes, and more than one woman is kept literally on a leash like Leia in Jabba's palace. Simply put: it's problematic.


And then there is the story... Remender writes in his forward that he wanted to write a book about optimism. And he has. And that's almost entirely what this book is about to the detriment of world building, characterization, and plot. The main character, Stel, is a vehicle for dialogue about the power of positive thinking. She's one of those people that just keeps telling herself, and everyone else, that if they just think positively everything will work out in the end. And if I can be 100% honest that's a huge button for me (for personal reasons I won't go into). Which is really the big reason I couldn't get behind this book. I could forgive almost every sin this book commits if I appreciated the message more. Unfortunately, Pollyanna under the sea mostly dredged up a bunch of ire for me, which I suppose means I need to adjust my attitude. Or so Low would try to convince me. As is I'm not impressed enough to set aside my personal biases.


If you're interested in a well illustrated lecture on the power of positive thinking this might be the perfect book for you. If you want an under the sea adventure featuring a strong female heroine, like I did, you might want to swim to darker waters.