Submerged features a strong protagonist struggling with her past, attempting to come to terms with all she has lost. It’s an epic journey that feels like a dream, featuring strong writing and a compelling art style.
It was exciting to see a lesbian Latina woman in the lead role. She’s an extremely complex character and the influences on her life, from her sexuality to her culture to her family ties, are front and center throughout. This is a deep portrait of her life, of the struggles she (and many women like her) are forced to face. Using myth to highlight her fears and her perception of the world makes it easy to see how she feels and to understand it on a deeper level.
The art style follows a modern approach, tying comic book-style panels with a focus on water and its unpredictability. There’s a lot of action in the series as Elysia is constantly chased by some apparition or another. Everything is done masterfully, especially the juxtaposition of past and present through color changes. The dark blues highlight the seriousness of the material, possibly representing a cloud of depression that has hung over her life. As she accepts her past and looks to the future, the colors begin to change to a sunset palette until finally the pages are bright and fully lit. It’s a brilliant usage of lighting, color, and tone.
At its heart, Submerged is a deep look at forgiveness and the baggage we carry around from our pasts. Elysia is trapped by the abuses she and her family suffered at the hands of a dangerous father. She hides from the world and through a series of ordeals, she is forced to come to terms with the life she deserves to live. She’s powerful beyond measure and in the end, she sees the future for what it is: full of hope and possibilities.
NOTE: I was provided a free copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for my honest, unbiased review.
Written by Vita Ayala
Illustrated by Lisa Sterle
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