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‘The Unexpected #1’ (review)

Written by Steve Orlando
Art by Cary Nord, Ryan Sook
Published by DC Comics


“I survived the Crime Syndicate. Black Lanterns. Both Darkseid invasions. So there was no way in hell, demonic invading Batmen were going to slow me down. People needed me.”

Hear hear.

It’s not yet clear with the first issue of Steve Orlando’s new series, what precisely the name The Unexpected is meant to signify. But that’s OK, because everything else about this title lives up to the name.

And I like it.

The Unexpected is the latest title in DC’s attempt to create new franchises with projects spinning out of it’s Dark Nights Metal event.

See what sticks on the wall, I suppose. The quality and enduring appeal of what we’ve seen so far has been spotty; some hits, some misses.

But if this premiere outing of The Unexpected is any indication going forward, it looks like it falls squarely in the former category.

It might even top the list.

Why? A combination of a good creative team with a lot of room to flex their talent, and a premise that is exciting, new, and wholly original. At a guess, and it’s just a guess at this point, The Unexpected seems to be playing on Marvel’s Sorcerer Supreme motif. Author Steve Orlando has cobbled together a character that is reminiscent of both Stephen Strange and Matt Murdock, and there the similarity to anything Marvel related ends. Even better, while Neon, mage of the creative fires, does feature prominently, it’s not he that takes center stage for this first issue. We’ll see if that continues, but for the moment I’m more than happy to have Janet Fals, DC’s newest Firebrand, take the spotlight. She tough, interesting, and instantly worthy of iconic heroic status. Even if her heart isn’t completely in it.

Orlando it seems was made to write comics. There are at least two reasons why:

First, his storytelling instincts are excellent.

Second, he is practically exploding with inventive imagination.

That combination is ideal for a comics author, and DC’s lucky to have him in their bullpen. It’s particularly good to have him on a book where he can run a little wild. Not everything works perfectly – that’s impossible to expect – but as with the best comic scribes, Orlando throws so many new ideas down on a page it’s a sheer delight just keeping up with him. On top of that, the action and the pacing of the book demonstrate that Orlando not only has the right instincts for keeping his readers entertained, but that he’s not afraid to take risks that keep you guessing. Working on a book name The Unexpected is an excellent fit for those talents. His work here feels a lot like Joe Kelly at his best, or Rick Remender when he’s given free creative reign. Bravo DC.

So what’s the skinny?

Seems there is a war of fundamental forces in the DC Universe – one we’ve never heard of before. The Forges of Creation vs. the Fires of Destruction. Unfortunately for Janet Fals, she’s been retro-fitted somehow with a techno-magical marvel that draws upon the latter. Aside from forcing her into a life of brutality she does not want, it seems that’s put a target on her back. When Neon and his strike team of otherworldly interdimensional champions arrives on the scene, she’s already facing off with an agent of destruction, brilliantly realized by artists Ryan Sook and Cary Nord.

Sook and Nord’s work, much like Orlando’s is imperfect, but thoroughly enjoyable. They’re a great team, and I look forward to what they’ll do together.

Because Steve Orlando is at the helm of this project, I’ll make a guess that whatever he has in store will synergize at some point with Orlando’s upcoming work on the newly magically signified Wonder Woman. If that’s true, it’s even more exciting to note that one thing that becomes apparent quickly is that, like many of DC’s new creative projects, The Unexpected is making a deliberate effort to build out from many of the concepts that Scott Snyder introduced into the DCU with his dark multiversal Dark Metals story arc.

Of those efforts, this book is by far the most satisfying to date. It’s not clear yet exactly where Orlando is headed with everything, or how it all hangs together – but that’s just fine. Just knowing that Thanagar is back on the scene with a new, juiced up, ultra-creative mythology of magical mysticism and super-science is a joy in itself

Knowing that this mythology is in good hands, and I can’t wait for more.

Good work ladies and gentlemen. Looking forward to whatever lies ahead

By all means, surprise me.


Next issue: Nth squared!!!



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