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‘The Unexpected #3’ (review)

Written by Steve Orlando
Illustrated by Cary Nord
Published by DC Comics

“The metal’s getting hotter inside me! Reacting to my grief, your aggression! You’re more right than you know Firebrand… The world can’t risk us fighting each other.”


Sounds like a good idea.

Our third issue in Steve Orlando’s and Cary Nord fantastic tale of The Unexpected, barrels us along at a breakneck pace, one they handle with seeming ease and flair.

Not only do we get to see our heroes in direct confrontation with DC’s newest big baddie Onimar Synn, it all happens in Monster Valley, the newest pocket of the DC Universe. Fresh from the shores of Blackhawk Island, mind you.

Helps to have a mage capable of bending space and time to get you where you want to go.

Helpful also (for us anyway) to have an unstable and volatile reality-ending threat tucked away in one’s abdomen to ratchet up the urgency and keep things moving along at a brisk clip.

This book continues to be my favorite work of Steve Orlando to date. He does well with a largely blank canvass, almost as if the premise of the book, and the amount of leeway he’s been given, has just kicked his imagination into overdrive.

From Astral Translation, to Thanagarian gods connected to the Dark Multiverse, to ancient sky civilizations with time folding technologies, it’s a whole new world to play with. And play he does. With no shortage of guest stars to boot.

Cary Nord is finding his way. So far his best work is not found in detailed linework, like that of his partner Ryan Sook, in the first issue. His most enjoyable efforts come through in his more abstracted renderings, which sometimes works well with all the fantastic Orlando is asking him to capture, and sometimes doesn’t, but is something he should cultivate, because he does it well. That’s especially true with the Mark Farmer on inks.

This time out we get a glimpse into Ascendant’s rather astonishing history. Ascendant is the great big blue Orck named Elligh who was killed off in the first issue, along with the team’s axe wielding mystery warrior-woman. And it’s quite a history. (Mind you I’d prefer it if we could call him an Orc, or even an Ork. But both of those have been taken unfortunately, so I guess Orck it is. I’ll get used to it.)

A bit odd to spend time punching up the backstory of a dead character, which makes one wonder just how final Elligh’s state of departure will remain. If so, it’s yet another brilliant tweak to the motif of the epic band-of-heroes adventure story.

We’ll see if that trend continues, but it is curious to note how often it is impressed upon us that our powerfully dangerous nth metal isotope was forged from the co-mingling of each of our hero’s essences… along with that of the Bad Samaritan’s of course. (And we already know he’s got another shot at mortality, even if it’s not seen in this issue.)

Curious too, to observe the similarities between the isotope’s function and that of Firebrand’s beating heart of destruction. Makes one wonder what a magical isotope of wondrous new potential could do when fueled with the right emotions.

Or what a book made to tell that story, could do with them too.

Next Issue: What exactly’s up with that Big Magical Battle-Axe?


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