“THE VAULT” #1 (Comic Review)

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Originally published at Fangoria.com on August 15th, 2011

Pulse-poundingly suspenseful, eerie and thrilling, THE VAULT #1 (Image Comics) tells the tale of greed slowly turning into madness as a group of treasure hunters seek their latest bounty. Instead of priceless riches, however, the group finds only death itself.

Based on her extensive research, Dr. Gabrielle Parker believes she has found the exact location of a treasure pit, but a roaring hurricane is heading straight towards the location: Sable Island, which happens to be nicknamed the “Graveyard of the North Atlantic.” Time is running short, and so Gabrielle and her team of treasure seekers must dive into shark-infested waters. But will they actually find a cache of jewels and crystals? Or is Gabrielle unknowingly leading them to their deaths?

Gabrielle’s teammate, Anderson, thought he was swimming close to their designated point. He never expected to be suddenly attacked by a giant squid. In a fierce battle underwater, the giant squid cracks the glass of Anderson’s mask, making it difficult for him to breathe. Wrapped tightly in its tentacles, Anderson swings his knife around, hoping to make his opponent bleed. The squid is defending the vault, trying to prevent anyone from getting near the treasure.

Deep inside a cave, the hidden vault lies protected by sea creatures and surrounded by deadly traps. At the top of the vault is a lethal layer of hydrogen sulfide that will burn through the divers’ wetsuits. And opening the vault means releasing a monstrous figure that was meant to stay forever buried. Death is slowly coming for Gabrielle and her teammates.

Writer Sam Sarkar takes the time to develop his ensemble cast, and uses a roundup of morally ambiguous individuals to play a game with readers concerning who they should trust. Gabrielle may be interested in science, but she is also holding something back from her teammates. And why did Anderson bring along a crate full of rifles and shotguns for the mission? He claims it’s to protect the others from pirates, but is he planning on shooting down his teammates, one by one, when the treasure is discovered?

Garrie Gastonny’s glossy artwork is a major attraction in this three-issue mini-series. Gabrielle has such expressive reactions, especially in the scene when she’s told there’s a “problem.” The last page, which involves the shocking revelation of what’s inside the vault, is a twisted illustration of bone structures, and the colors by Sakti Yuwono add a slightly warm but still creepy vibe to the blue waters. THE VAULT #1 lays the groundwork for an exciting heist gone horribly wrong. You don’t want to miss out on this deep-sea adventure!