Underwinter #1 Review

Posted March 23, 2017 by Jean-Luc Botbyl in Comic Books

Written by: Ray Fawkes

Art by: Ray Fawkes

Published by: Image Comics

The first two pages of Underwinter #1 perhaps make up the most chilling scene I have ever read in comics. The art is abstracted to the point of being horrific. The monologue that comes with it is downright disturbing. Paired together, it made my skin crawl.

It’s a package that does an incredible job of setting the tone for the rest of the issue. The characters that are introduced seem normal. A down-on-their-luck string quartet looking for gigs? It’s a believable set up, aided by the fact that Ray Fawkes makes the characters feel real. Initially, there’s nothing off about their story.

Fawkes’ unique style of water colors do, at times, keep the book off-balance. The art can be downright disturbing when he wants it to be. For the most part, however, it isn’t. In an odd way, it all feels soothing. And yet, it creates the sense that the world of Underwinter is distorted for the reader–as if they are looking in through a smudged, off color peep-hole. It’s truly brilliant work.

There is definitely a turning point where events take a turn for the worse, but even before this point, Fawkes creates a lingering sense of dread. The book feels insidious. Subtle touches in the writing make the characters sound nervous. The opening, combined with a scene that suggests one of the characters is troubled, add to the growing sense of tension. The color palette shifts, progressively becoming darker, and out of focus panels create unease.

In the end, it all pays off in beautiful fashion. The climax of this issue mirrors its opening– in some ways, it’s even more unsettling. It teases things to come. There are promises made, and based off this issue, I have no doubts that Ray Fawkes will keep those promises.

At its best, Underwinter #1 is masterful. At its worst, it’s still pretty great. This is one to watch. It may very well be Fawkes’ masterpiece.

Underwinter #1

Underwinter #1


Final Score

9.5 /10


  • Phenomenal sense of tension
  • Fawkes' art fits beautifully – and looks great
  • Characters seem interesting
  • Last few pages tease amazing things to come

About the Author

Jean-Luc Botbyl

Jean-Luc is a grizzled veteran of We the Nerdy. Most days, he just wonders why he hasn't been formally fired. Follow him on Twitter at @J_LFett to make him feel validated.