It’s great to finally see the Bermuda Triangle provide us with more answers than questions!
Steffie de Vaan’s Water Woman: Into the Deep issue #1 introduces the redemption story of sculptor Niqui Salinas-Aguado. There are many surprising and even supernatural twists throughout as Niqui attempts to overcome her demons, and this first issue sets up great stories to come.
Beautifully illustrated in 3D by Crissie Brown, this story begins with Niqui completing her first project as a sculptor in Miami. We soon meet Niqui’s girlfriend, Romain, CFO of Ricci Group, a local corporation. Romain is suspected of money laundering, which draws the FBI’s attention, the first of several subplots. This puts FBI Special Agents Shan Wong and her mentor, Martha Jones, on high alert for any suspicious behavior on Romain’s part.
The story also follows Niqui’s mother, Pearl. A marine biologist, Pearl brings Niqui and Romain on one of her research trips to the Bermuda Triangle. This is where the story reaches its darkest moment. Up until this scene, there are signs of cracks in Romain and Niqui’s relationship. However, like many abusive relationships, the worst of it rears its ugly head when no one is watching.
Romain’s true colors come out on the boat ride to the Bahamas. The two get into what seems to be one of their many fights. The escalation in the fight between Roman and Niqui is shocking, but it makes sense. What happens next really turns the story on its head and allows Vaan to dive into the story’s major themes. Romain strikes Niqui and pushes her overboard. Instead of helping her girlfriend, Romain leaves her for dead and does not tell Pearl about what just happened. Niqui disappears into the deep.
Vaan provides a note during this scene about how leaving an abuser can be very dangerous, making a message of this story very clear from the first issue. She also gives the reader a link, thehotline.org, to contact if they are in a similar relationship.
Luckily this isn’t the last we see of Niqui and she is able to overcome the impossible. And now she has a major decision to make. Does she bring her ex to justice and if so, how? With Agent Wong investigating Niqui’s disappearance, Niqui needs to provide proof of Romain’s actions. All the while, Pearl attempts to get her daughter to overcome the trauma of her abuse.
It’s difficult to blend fantasy with something that is very real. And while this move is a bold one by Vaan, it works in getting across the message. Because if it weren’t for the supernatural twist, Romain would’ve easily gotten away with murder. This happens way too often because oftentimes the people closest to the victim are way too late.
This is a story that brings up a lot of complex themes. In addition to domestic abuse and trauma, there are themes of corporate greed and hopelessness for the people who know victims of domestic abuse. All the while, the illustrations portray the emotional journey of Niqui. With an ending that leaves the story on a major cliffhanger, it will be very interesting to see how the “Water Woman” series can go even deeper on their overall message.