It’s been a year since the first issue of Dr. Love Wave and the Experiments left us high and dry, with a marina devoid of water and aliens lurking about. You’d think the second issue would come bounding in with all kinds of funky music and action. Instead, it pulls us back into its quiet spaces, reminding us of one of this past year’s most important lessons: it’s okay to take our time.
Dr. Love Wave and the Experiments #2
Kaylee Rowena (artist), Joamette Gill, (letterer), Greg Gustin (writer), Michael Kennedy
April 21, 2021
What’s a small town without a slimy politician taking advantage of an unusual situation? Madre Bay’s no longer much of a bay thanks to the absence of all its water. A young boy has seen tentacled aliens around, but the marina owners, Carl and Bergie, are getting the runaround from the mayor’s office, despite him setting up a press conference in their backyard. Mayor Biddle doesn’t believe that there are any unusual creatures in the bay that might be responsible for this phenomenon, but he’s going to take full advantage of the opportunity to be front and centre on the news.
Meanwhile, after a late-night playing at The Bilge and wandering beneath the stars with Mika, Milt wakes up from yet another bad dream about his mother’s passing and his struggles to cope with her death. Or rather, to cope with how people treat him in regard to her death. New to the series artist Kaylee Rowena depicts this through painfully relatable imagery of eerily masked people sharing the usual awkward platitudes and not-so-comforting words. The grieving person typically understands that these people mean well and just want to show they care, but sometimes, perhaps silence would be the best response of all.
It’s comforting that the second issue brings the story back around to the main protagonist’s journey through grief, which is writer Greg Gustin’s journey too, having lost his own mother to cancer. This personal touch is felt throughout the story, but not in a heavy-handed way. Nor is it used to weigh down the overall mood. The artwork remains playful throughout, and even waking up from this uncomfortable nightmare, the pages quickly dig into a sense of fun and camaraderie as Milt is spammed with texts from his friends who want to know what was up with him and that girl from the crowd last night. This section is a masterful display of art, writing, lettering, and design combining to make magic through totally relatable and laugh-out-loud experiences. By their nature, text messages aren’t particularly exciting, design-wise, but juxtaposed against the actual happenings (or not happenings), the messages fly hard and fast, complete with typoes and too much or too little punctuation.
As for Mika, like many other elements of the story, Gustin relies on dramatic irony for the pacing. We know that Mika is an alien-hunting android, but when will Milt and the others find out? And none of us actually know about the aliens yet. Dr. Love Wave and the Experiments #2 gives us lots of emotional beats to dance to, but is very careful about stringing us along with its main baddies. As the pace suddenly starts to pick up in this issue, one can only hope that we won’t have to wait another year to find out what happens next…!