“Decompressed” is a funny title for this volume. That’s because writer/artist Matt Kindt does nothing but put pressure on his protagonist, Mia, and on the reader as well. Mia is still trying to figure out who killed her father, Hari, in the undersea base he was working at. Keep in mind that said base is slowly crumbling around her and the surviving members of the research team that were inhabiting it. While everyone is trying to find a way off of the base and back to the surface, they’ve also been quarantined by the authorities on the surface because they might’ve been exposed to an unknown pathogen during their time down there. Or it could just be exposure to the electrocommunication between the jellyfish, and the giant squid and sea turtle under the sea with them. All this is going on at the same time Mia is rifling through her own personal history with her father and his work to find some clue, or maybe just some closure, to his murder.
This is one of those volumes where while a lot of stuff happens it still leaves the reader feeling that not much forward progress has been made. I’ll admit that the cast has become better defined after three volumes and Kindt’s dialogue doesn’t grate on me as much, but the overall feeling is that the narrative is spinning its wheels at this point. All this new information we get, mostly about Mia and her father, starts to feel oppressive after a while. Kindt just keeps going over the same points about Mia’s unhappy childhood, her disappointment with Hari’s decision to leave space and explore the ocean, and how Hari’s effortless charisma brought everyone down here together and may have doomed them all. If Kindt was trying to create a story where the readers felt the crushing pressure that its undersea cast was experiencing, then mission accomplished. I just don’t think the results are all that worthwhile at this point.