“Park Ranger and avid caver Wesley Fischer is on a one-woman mission to stop Stillwater Cave from being turned into a tourist trap, but public opinion is not on her side. When locals begin blasting in the cave, Wes and a fellow ranger investigate – and a confrontation spirals into a deadly chase deep under the Kentucky mountains!”
With a few exceptions, it’s fair to say that I primarily read superhero comics. Now and again a series jumps up from the others demanding my attention and reminds me why I love the medium. The storytelling possibilities of the sequential art medium are nearly endless, sure, but in the hands of a master it is far better than any novel or movie. The artwork draws you in and the dialog is sharp yet demands the reader to contribute his/her own emphasis and unique sounds. Some comic book authors force the issue and introduce their own slant to the script which often pulls you out of the story. But when a writer is at the top of his game, it just seems so natural. The artwork is just as important and it too can engage the reader in just the right manner so that it conveys character setting and mood all at once. There are very few artists in the comic book field who can do this, I find.
In short, the right combination of words and images are just magic and that is exactly how I would classify Underworld.
Jeff Parker (Agents of Atlas) and Steve Lieber (Whiteout) may seem like strange collaborators as they come from very different ends of the comic book spectrum. But it is Parker’s skill at writing compelling stories with characters that are easy for readers to relate to that matches Lieber’s impeccable talent for drafting up lush environments and expressive faces that brings the pair together. When I had read Rucka and Lieber’s White Out when it was first released I was intrigued by the murder mystery but it was the sequential style of the story that made it so difficult to put down. In fact, having all of Underground in one collected volume is certainly a boon compared to the month-to-month wait that readers had to endure while the series was being released.
Underground is one of those rare finds that comic book reviewers crow about. Adding to the atmosphere of the series is the dynamic coloring that pulls readers into the subterranean world of caves that feels so full of possibility and drama that the cinematic air of the series comes alive.
Allow me to add my humble accolades to the numerous other positive reviews:
“It’s amazing what an accomplished creative team can accomplish with such a straight-forward story. More survival adventure than crime comic, Underground has been a refreshing read for several reasons.” Write Club
“this comic is fun, action packed, and highly atmospheric.” The Outhousers
“Parker has graced this story with a lot of strong character development, and has a feel for how people would react in and to these types of situations. Lieber’s art is fantastic throughout…This is a title that seriously deserves some awards.” Things I Like
“It’s a testament to Parker and Lieber that they made even the most minor of characters interesting in this series. Here’s hoping the trade sales on this series makes feasible for Parker and Lieber to do more with these folks beyond Stillwater Cave.” Tim O’Shea Robot 6
“…terrific dialogue showing that this man really seems to know how actual conversations work with suitable pauses and interruptions in Wesley and Seth’s interactions. Lieber finishes the run well using his angles and layouts in a varied and effective manner to wring the best out of the plot and caving action.” Paradox Comics Group
“Lieber and Parker are functioning as a well-oiled machine in this story. If not for the credit box, interviews, and blogs, I would almost believe that the tale came from one single creator, so tight is the story to art and vice versa.” Doug Zawisza
Comic Book Resources
“It’s amazing how they’re able to keep that feeling of claustrophobia… you’re there with the characters.” Meltdown Comics Podcast Starts at 39:40.
“No other book gripped me like this one did – and all without a single superhero. I didn’t think that was possible in the world of comic books. Jeff Parker proved me wrong.” Mr Pasty Ain’t it Cool News
“Jeff Parker’s writing guides this story through some great moments of tension, but Steve Lieber’s art really makes the cave come alive. The background is such a huge part of the issues, and it is next to impossible to ignore the intense shift in color as we go above and below ground. This book proves color can be a key story telling tool when used with great effectiveness.” Black Thursday
“Parker…has a good old fashioned chase scene brewing at the same time as our heroes are being tracked down by gun wielding thugs with murderous intent. The result is a story that is able to keep the reader on the edge of their seat from start to finish.” Comic Book Revolution
“Jeff Parker is a writing fiend these days, truly a man among men or a writer among writers or something like that…and this 5-issue series is the best thing he’s done since The Interman. He’s also fortunate to have Steve Lieber on art at the top of his game helping out. The best adventure story about Kentucky caves and park rangers that maintain same that I’ve ever read, and seriously, the guys nail the verisimilitude…believe me, I know. ” Johnny Bacardi Pop Dose
“a fine adventure with sympathetic characters and some really nice artwork.” Hipster dad
“If you’ve only read Parker’s Marvel stuff, you might not realize what a good writer he is and how well he creates characters. His “awesome” moments for Marvel might overshadow the fact that he really knows what he’s doing. ” Greg Burgas Comics Should be Good
“The finale was great, the series is great…my favorite miniseries by far…I love this series.”Fourth Wall Podcast Starts at 34:10.