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The World Below Paperback – January 30, 2007
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From Publishers Weekly
Chadwick's works, like his well-known Concrete, have always maintained a fiercely individual slant, but this collection of his two miniseries raids the back catalogues of Jules Verne, Edgar Rice Burroughs, the Challengers of the Unknown and a plethora of underground exploration yarns. Chadwick sends "the Team of Six" into a hostile subterranean landscape replete with horrific monsters, strange natural phenomena, incredible technologies and lost civilizations with predictable results. The characters are much better written than what's usually seen in team books, with a story often interrupted by some random, oddball threat that is usually solved with a bout of action or a firefight. The action set pieces are quite lively, thanks to the author's no-nonsense artwork. It's clear that Chadwick was trying to develop a piece that would yield narrative rewards if given time to find its audience and thrive. However, the series was ended early, necessitating a rapid conclusion that solves most of the plot threads, resulting in an engagingly illustrated, deeply flawed but interesting curiosity. (Jan.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
In 1998 Chadwick took a break from chronicling his signature hero, Concrete, to take on a more conventional adventure. The World Below follows a team of six hired to explore a series of underground caverns containing potentially lucrative alien technology--and also bizarre creatures. As Chadwick's introduction notes, it's something of a precursor to Lost, featuring a disparate group thrust into a mysterious, menacing environment and incorporating flashbacks gradually revealing the cast's backstories. If the fantastic beings Chadwick conjures up are compellingly imaginative, and the action is gripping, the characters never really come to life. Lackluster sales that forced him to wrap up the story line rather abruptly when the title was cancelled didn't help, either. Chadwick kept the tale interesting by peppering it with philosophizing a la Concrete, and his highly wrought drawing and adept page design are as effective as ever. It's no match for Concrete, but 99 percent of other comics aren't, either, so that's no reason not to enjoy this lesser work's modestly successful blend of derring-do and thoughtfulness. Gordon Flagg
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
Top customer reviews
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As an adventure with a sci-fi tinge, it measures up on several fronts. There are plenty of weird creatures and situations in a totally alien setting. It's handy to be on, or rather under, the Earth so that its not unreasonable for the team to be small and privately funded. On the other hand, the landscapes would make much more sense as the surface of a different planet. My educated brain couldn't make the leap to allow for so much undetected subterranean space and variety of life forms (even if they are supposed to be from another world).
The art is often up to Chadwick's fine standard. The humans are identifiable, though not altogether unique. The layouts and angles and settings are beautiful. Some of the alien creatures and machines are amazing and alien. Many of them aren't. They're muddles that seem like random collections of pieces and parts that barely make functional, much less anatomical, sense. This may have been intentional, in fact a couple of creatures seem to be capable of trading limbs and at least one machine appears to be made up of somewhat independent parts. And they are supposed to be alien and mysterious.
The characters are serviceable, if not entirely relatable or rounded out. Chadwick attempts to make them distinct and three dimensional through conflict and flashbacks, but with so much else happening on each page and the constant tug to move on to the next situation, much of this seems tacked on and easy to ignore. As he admits in the Intro, the first couple of issues are a bit short on exposition and this is exactly a few more bits of background might have created a firmer foundation for the cast.
I had a fine time reading this book. I enjoyed Concrete immensely and had looked forward to this title since I first heard about it. If it weren't for the problems with subterranean geology and biology (and some clunky writing), I'd probably give this four stars. As it is, I give it a solid three.
Concrete has never been my thing so it is my hope that Paul Chadwick might someday return to Action/Adventure and create a new series. Maybe in a digital cbr/cbz downloadable format to eliminate the manufacturing costs so it can't get killed by bean counters.
Still, it's a quick and fun read with some exciting and clever parts, and some great drawing, especially some of the second- or third-string alien creatures.