Writer: Rick Remender
Artist: Greg Tocchini
Low has always been a book about hope, even if it doesn’t always feel like it is. It’s been well over a year since the last issue of Low, so we haven’t gotten to see Stel’s faith and hope tested in some time. Now, Rick Remender and Greg Tocchini’s series returns as Stel finally makes it to the surface.
Low #20 opens with a page recapping the story so far, which is greatly appreciated since it has been so long and Low isn’t exactly a light read. The newest arc, “Last Embers,” leads the series into the final few issues. The opening chapter of the arc is a stressful one, with Stel forced to face the worst possible outcome. Aside from a fast-paced flashback at the beginning of the issue, Low #20 is fairly light on action. Remender eases readers back into the world with strong dialogue that effectively sets the final act.
The antagonists are established and are simply awful. The organization is a complete antithesis of what Stel stands for. The conversation between Stel and her adversaries are tough to read. Stel has been through enough, but apparently, Remender doesn’t think so. Pain and suffering are always waiting for the characters of Low, and now it seems that they are truly here to end everything. The dialogue is chilling and never feels excessively wordy, despite how much is being said. The strong dialogue also allows for Remender to flex his strong and dynamic characters. Stel, even in her darkest moments, still feels powerful. Even with giants towering over her and threatening to destroy everything she believes in; her hope won’t die.
Greg Tocchini’s work in Low makes the hiatus worth the wait. Low is one of the most consistent books on the market when it comes to the storytelling, and the art deserves so much credit for the what book accomplishes. Through creative panel layouts, Tocchini manages to make a wordy issue feel tense. The issue never quite feels slow, though it might take the reader a while to get through this one as they gawk at the beautiful pages.
Low #20 isn’t flawless though and comes with a few problems. A slow issue like this may not have been the best approach with how long it has been since the previous chapter. It’s hard to really blame the creative team though, and I’m sure that when collected, the series will flow well. It’s just tough to dive back into the series without much of a spark to set the tone. Readers might need to read the issue twice to grasp everything that happened, especially when it comes to the role of each new character. Tocchini’s art is wonderful, but it feels like a few characters look the same so it might take a second for readers to get a grasp on who is who. Again, most of this issue’s problems will likely be non-existent when the complete series is collected.
Low #20 is a slow descent back into the Remender and Tocchini’s incredible world. It will be a little slow for some, as Remender focuses on establishing the final act. Fans of the series should absolutely pick up this issue because it is likely that the long wait will be worth it in the end.
Low is back, and the final act is going to be a stressful experience. The long hiatus was worth the wait.