*Underground — Best of 2010

Stillwater Cave is a battleground. The townspeople of nearby Marion, Kentucky, want the cave open to the public for the business it will bring. Conservationists want its limited access status as a state park maintained, because they worry that tourists will destroy the natural formations.

Underground cover

Two park rangers find the discussion becoming personal. They work together, they’ve just slept together, and now they find themselves with different opinions. One, Seth, is from the area and understands the economic pressure on the citizens; the other, Wesley, is concerned with protecting the cave environment because it can’t speak for itself.

A local businessman decides not to wait for a decision and hires some losers to open up the cave on his own. When Seth goes to investigate, he gets injured in an explosion. Wesley comes after him, and the two wind up playing cat-and-mouse with the losers, come back to cover their tracks. The situation keeps escalating until soon it’s a battle for life and death as the rangers are chased through the only partially explored cave system.

I think Steve Lieber’s work is at its best when he’s exploring extreme environments, as he did with Whiteout. He’s skilled at capturing what it would feel like to be trapped underground, a situation most of us thankfully will never experience for ourselves. His work showing the characters underground is brilliantly supported with a limited palette (colors by Ron Chan), all browns and blacks, later greys and whites.

Lieber is also great with a variety of people, faces and movement and body types, which suits when populating a small country town. Parker’s dialogue tells the story while sounding natural, without shoving exposition at the reader. Together, they create some amazing, adrenaline-pounding sequences underground, including a visually astounding one with a flock of bats. They’ve clearly done their research in terms of cave structures, climbing techniques, and the natural environment.

The collection is due out April 21 and can be ordered from your comic shop with code FEB10 0372. It’s an action-packed page-turner with an engrossing setting and lots of fascinating background information. You can read a preview version of the first chapter at the comic’s website. (The creators provided an online preview copy.)

Update: Or read the whole thing via legal PDF. You’ll like it so much you’ll want your own book copy.

12 Responses to “*Underground — Best of 2010”

  1. UNDERGROUND » Another Big Review Round up. Says:

    […] great reviews of Underground have continued to roll in. Here are a few of the many recent ones. Comics Worth Reading | Scribbler | Awesomed By Comics | Living Between Wednesdays | Robot 6 | Precocious […]

  2. Agents of Atlas » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    […] It’s written by Jeff Parker, whose work — The Interman, X-Men: First Class, Mysterius, Underground — I’ve been enjoying for years. And it’s a quirky superhero team, my favorite […]

  3. Free Comics Online: Dark Horse FCBD, Underground Sample » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    […] case my recommendation of Underground, by site favorites Jeff Parker and Steve Lieber, wasn’t enough to convince you to buy the […]

  4. From the Slush Pile: Cross Country, Dolltopia, Jam in the Band, Looking Up, Legacy, Experts » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    […] suggested reading. You can read the book online before you buy it. You might try this after reading Underground and wanting something with a similar setting but less action, more […]

  5. Heroes Con 2010 Day 1 » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    […] also picked up some great reading. Steve Lieber and Jeff Parker were kind enough to sign a copy of Underground for me. If you haven’t read this exciting story of caving adventure, you should. It’s […]

  6. Back From Baltimore Comic-Con 2010 » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    […] were making an appearance, and it’s always wonderful to see them. I recently reread their Underground, and it was even better as a collected story in one edition. Steve gave me a heads up to watch out […]

  7. Pirated Comic Brings Greater Sales, New Life for Older Work » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    […] Steve Lieber, a good guy who gets the internet. When the entire graphic novel of Underground (a recommended read of this site) was posted at 4chan (archive link), one page at a time, he […]

  8. Opposing Viewpoints on Comic “Piracy”, Starting With Colleen Doran » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    […] easy links to actually buy the books. That’s what Steve Lieber did right. Once his book Underground appeared online, he said “and you can buy it right here” or even just […]

  9. Best Graphic Novels of 2010 » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    […] Underground by Jeff Parker and Steve Lieber — Thrilling adventure in an extreme caving environment few readers will ever see. […]

  10. Roadways Collected Edition Available Only Through Amazon » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    […] by Lang, drawn by Slampyak (Jazz Age Chronicles, Little Orphan Annie), inked by Lieber (Whiteout, Underground) and later, John Drury. It’s the story of a physics professor whose assistant goes missing. […]

  11. Bucko Comes to Print With Artist and Writer Annotations » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    […] of my favorite comic people, Jeff Parker (Underground, X-Men First Class) and Erika Moen (DAR), teamed up to create the webcomic Bucko, a pointed satire […]

  12. Two Creators Share Valuable Creative Influences » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    […] to see someone remembering Andi Watson’s Slow News Day. Her list reminded me to reread Underground, which was fun. (Page shown […]




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