The Waves That Break by Aaron Losty, Becca Carey, Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou, Michael Doig, Dee Cunniffe and Dearbhla Kelly
Aaron Losty and his collaborators hit at the heart with an honest book that looks unflinchingly at death. THE WAVES THAT BREAK is a powerful piece of comics storytelling. It's worth picking up.
97 %
An emotional read
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Death has become one of the accepted tropes of comics. Nearly any superhero you can think of has died at least once at some stage, usually followed by their “surprising” return. Death in comics is something you can come back from. It has, at times, lost its meaning, deemed more an inconvenience than an inevitable end. Because of this, death is a revolving door in the comics world.

THE WAVES THAT BREAK makes a brave and honest attempt at throwing light upon a subject we’d rather not talk about. It opens the door to different planes of reality, where the universal truth is the same: we will all mourn at some stage in our lives. The book is broken down into three separate stories. “Shoes Etc.” is a slice-of-life story of one man adapting to life after his parent’s death. Meanwhile, “Immersion” provides a sci-fi angle to a story about a desperate bid to change the past. “Coldman” features a vampire who offers someone the chance to save their father. Each tale delves deep into the mire of loss, death, and mourning.

READ: Mark Millar and Greg Capullos’ REBORN deals with life beyond death. Read our review to see what we thought!

Image courtesy of Aaron Losty

Breaking Those Waves

Written and drawn by Irish creator Aaron Losty, THE WAVES THAT BREAK is an emotionally raw reading experience. The stories, despite some of their more fantastical trappings, reflect on the realness of death. Losty’s writing style is very fluid. The conversations the characters have are honest and open. As such, the situations are believable. These are people trying desperately to live on, despite what has happened to them. “Shoes Etc.” does this the most effectively. The main character, Nair, works in a shoe shop, lives alone and goes through the same routine day after day. His life and dreams are a constant reminder that his parents are gone. And yet, he still has to go on. The world does not pause and grieve with him — it just keeps spinning.

“Immersion” asks if you could go back in time and save someone you love from death, would you. But it delves deeper than that, challenging the reader to think about the effect that seeing their loved one again would have on them. Henry’s grieving process ultimately becomes the reader’s struggle.

“Coldman” is the most fascinating story of the trio. Sam’s father is still alive, but he hasn’t got much time left. She sits by his side, waiting for the inevitable, terrified of what will happen next. A vampire tempts her with a solution to her problem. Will the temptation be too great, or will Sam be able to let her father go? This story is a powerful reflection on what we would consider doing to keep a loved one by our side.

READ: ComicsVerse reviews RABBIT AND PAUL, an Irish comic with a lot of heart!

The Artistic side of THE WAVES THAT BREAK

“Shoes Etc.” has a very loose art style compared to the rest of the book. The line work here is thicker, more simplistic. It works well with the script, a reflection of the repetition of life. Losty builds on the themes of the first story, adding layers and intelligent twists to the remaining tales. “Immersion” and “Coldman” are a step-up artistically from “Shoes Etc.” The lines in these stories are thinner and cleaner, giving these narratives a more polished look. Overall, these are well-crafted stories, in both writing and art, that hold sway over your emotions.

Image courtesy of Aaron Losty

Losty’s Collaborators

While THE WAVES THAT BREAK is a personal project for Losty (both his parents recently beat cancer), his creative team shines as well. Dearbhla Kelly brings a subtle color palette to “Shoes Etc.” Nair’s dreams are a skyline of pinks while his everyday life is a mixture of dull greys and browns. Dee Cunniffe’s work on “Immersion” brings a bittersweet taste to this tale; a present that is claustrophobic and shadow, a past that is full of brightness and light. Michael Doig casts a bluish hue over, “Coldman,” adding to the supernatural elements of this vampiric tale. Each colorist puts their own stamp on the stories, working closely with Losty to evoke the ache of losing a loved one.

READ: We interviewed Aaron Losty and Becca Carey at Dublin Comic Con!

Overseeing the lettering of the whole book is Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou. Losty injects a good amount of dialogue into every tale, and Otsmane-Elhaou handles it with care. He has a good ear, so to speak, for dialogue, controlling each emotional beat with care. He never overstuffs a panel with text, letting the art breathe when it needs to.

The cover design by Becca Carey is eye-catching and somehow haunting, suggesting an emotional storm is just a page turn away. The overall production of the book is remarkable. All in all, THE WAVES THAT BREAK is an independent comic book worth its price.

Image courtesy of Aaron Losty

Finals Thoughts on THE WAVES THAT BREAK

THE WAVES THAT BREAK is an emotional read. It doesn’t offer any easy answers, just an honest depiction of a sensitive subject. Everything about the book beats with an honest heart, and it will stay with you long after finishing it. It’s a sad, beautiful book that will cause you to reflect and look back at your own experiences. It’s full of deeply human tales about a reality we will all have to face one day.

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