Pros: The setting and characters are all fascinating. The themes in the book are well developed and on point. The artwork is beautiful and fits the tone of the book perfectly.
Cons: Readers looking for an action packed saga will be disappointed.
Overall: If you are looking for a deep and interesting comic with beautiful art to go along with it, Saltwater is for you. It isn’t a comic with bombastic fight sequences and awkwardly forced romances. Instead, it is an imaginative romp through a wonderfully drawn world of oppression, where themes of anarchy and freedom bloom. If this matches what you look for in a comic then give Saltwater a try.
Saltwater: The Anarchy of Water is a great comic book where the biggest flaw is that there isn’t more. In it, writer Rick Quinn imagines an alien world of two classes, where the rich have plenty and the poor are practically slaves. What comes out of this is an excellent story of a girl and her desire for freedom from it all. Deep themes involving social stratification, individual choices, and anarchy give the book a V for Vendetta feeling in the best way possible. Hopefully we’ll see more of this comic in the future because the quality and imagination here warrants continuation.
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Saltwater follows the story of a girl named Sera, a lower class member of a society with a rigid class system. Once a part of the upper class, she was forced into the lower class when her mother began to speak out against the world’s inequality. Now she slaves away with the rest of the underclass, planning on one day escaping it all.
In just a few pages, Quinn does a tremendous job of giving you a detailed picture of Sera’s personality and the world in which she lives. You learn her backstory, her motivation, and get a sense for her future plans. Plus, you learn about the city itself, how the upper class treat the lower class, and how the members of the lower class treat each other. This is the part of the book that will leave you dying for more as most of these things could easily spawn multiple comic books all on their own. It is a fascinating world that all exists within a shockingly small number of pages, a feat most other comics fail to do.
However, the real success in Saltwater is its exploration into the concept of anarchy as a means to freedom from oppression. At the book’s conclusion, Sera destroys a trading ship, crippling the planet’s economy and theoretically sending the government and society into chaos. She doesn’t know that this will solve all of her society’s problems but postulates that anything is better than continuing the cycle they are in. It is a powerful message and one that should resonate with anyone who has come face to face with true inequality.
In portraying this concept, the comic also utilizes water as a metaphor and a device with which to unite all aspects of the book. Whether it is surrounding the city, given as a name to the lower class, or even used as a coloring technique, water is everywhere in this book. The first few pages present the “anarchy of water” to be a soothing sense of serenity derived from chaos. Sera’s love for the “anarchy of water” mirrors her ultimate decision to abandon the city she now knows and plunge headfirst into whatever future may be brought about by her actions. It is a unique and effective way to unite the book and one that makes the entire reading experience better.
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This is a good looking comic book. Dana Obera’s inks and watercolors fit the mood of the book perfectly and really assist in developing the book’s themes. The use of watercolor on its own helps in making the book more authentic, as it invokes thoughts of water even when no water is being depicted.
In addition, the drawings in this book are all extremely creative as well. The setting resembles a modern costal city, yet is also distinctly alien at the same time. The first shot we see of the city as a whole sparked my interest right away and sold me on the comic in general.