Pullbox Reviews Riptide: Draken #1 (of 4)- A deep dive into one of the few “what if’s” we have left

Soon to be a major motion picture, the Riptide series continues with an all-new adventure!  When a mysterious creatures attacks sub-sea equipment at a North Sea oil platform, a team led by Alex is sent to investigate. But Hannah and her documentary crew find the first clues in an unlikely place – Loch Ness!

On an oil platform off the coast of Scotland, repairs on the rig’s main pump are completed and the machinery is fired up. As the oil well comes online, a form flashes through the water and attacks the equipment. Too large to be a shark & moving too fast to be a whale, the crew of the oil rig has just enough time to tag it with an electronic tracker before it’s gone.

On a chartered boat cruising across the surface of the famed Loch Ness, a film crew prepares to put state of the art equipment to use in the murky waters. Their hope is to clear up some of the mystery around the lake, but in all honesty “Nessie” was never really in their sights. When a massive form streaks through the water & bangs into their boat, expectation rubs up against reality in a way none of them predicted.

What is it about Loch Ness? One of the deepest lakes in the world and completely landlocked, it’s one of the most explored bodies of water on the planet, and there’s still more that we don’t know about it than things that we do. As for its most famous inhabitant, that’s been a topic of discussion & debate among experts since the first time someone saw a log floating drifting along the lake’s surface. At this point, I think any form of definitive answer regarding the Loch Ness Monster would be kind of a letdown, whether its existence is disproved or confirmed. People love to be able to ponder, “what if…?” Take that away from us, and things get just a little bit more boring.

I like the way Red 5 Comics & writer Scott Chitwood are approaching the Nessie Conundrum. From the opening pages, a flashback to when Viking longships braved the ocean waves, any question about the existence of “sea monsters” is answered. What Chitwood isn’t laying out for all to see is what Nessie wants, & what we’re going to do about it once we find out. Taking a little bit of a Jurassic Park angle, Chitwood unites the sciences of industry and discovery as two factions with very different motivations come together to resolve that mystery. Another question that Chitwood touches on in this opening issue is, what happens once we do confirm the existence of the “Monster of Loch Ness”? Do we give a wink & a nod to Nessie, congratulating them on their ability to confound us for so long? Or do we swarm to Scotland in droves, filling Loch Ness with tourists and treasure seekers looking to cash in the legendary creature?

I dunno about you, but I think I know where I’m putting my money…

Tackling the challenge of adapting the visuals for Chitwood’s story, the team of Danny Luckert and Matt James have their work cut out for them. Luckert’s illustrations do a pretty good job of uncovering just enough about Nessie in the opening pages, without showing us everything all at once. We know that there’s something swimming around out there, but we’re still not totally sure just what it is. Likewise, James’s color palette muddies the waters just enough to keep the reveals from revealing too much. The other aspect of Luckert’s artwork that appealed to me in Riptide was with the characters, as he puts a lot of emphasis on facial expressions to set the tone. Overall, the characters and their environments are handled naturally, with everyone doing their thing and interacting with each other and the world around them.

I’d be slacking if I didn’t give a nod of appreciation to the lettering by Troy Peteri. While most of the dialogue is kept pretty low key, there are exclamatory moments where a little extra “umph” is called for. Also, there are some effects that aren’t what might generally be found in a comic book, sudden outbursts of sound that have to do the work of the absent movie soundtrack. Peteri manages to give those moments the punch that they need to get the tension- and subsequent release of- across to the reader.

The honest truth is that if we ever do solve the mystery of Loch Ness, one way or the other, I think we’re going to be a little disappointed. Not knowing is half of the fun, and we live in a world that’s becoming more and more lacking in the Unknown. With Riptide: Draken, Red 5 Comics keeps the questing spirit alive by moving beyond the question of “what if…?” and dipping into the “what now…?”.

Final Score: 10/13

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