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‘The Unexpected #5’ (review)

Written by Steve Orlando
Illustrated by Ronan Cliquet
Published by DC Comics


“Billions of lives on the line…an unknown artifact…answers in the dark…I conquered Everest at twenty… I can damn well conquer this.”


Nothing too terribly exciting happens in this issue. Not action-wise at any rate. Most of those fireworks are queued up for the next few issues.

But don’t worry, there’s still plenty of conflict, and a bit of the unexpected too. In fact, a number of things I’ve been waiting for happen in this issue, and they’re pretty damn satisfying.

For one thing… Hawkman.

Carter Hall has quickly become the sort of central player in the DCU that he deserves to be.

Between the breadth of his (very) long historical background throughout earth culture, the elevation of Thanagar as a central concern in the DCU generally, and of course, his recent travails with the power base of the Dark Multiverse, Hawkman is one of those characters that is able to provide, shall we say, the sort of bird’s eye view on matters that few can match.

That’s particularly true when it comes to nth metal. So, it was really only a matter of time before we saw him here in these pages – although until it happened, I didn’t count it as a certainty, just as hopeful.

Turns out though, he’s just the man Neon and Firebrand need to see, and thankfully he’s just where he needs to be when they do… Frankenstein’s castle.

For a substance that’s supposed to be exceedingly, to the point of vanishingly, rare, nth metal sure does seem to get around. But luckily for our heroes, it’s connection with the good Dr. Victor, makes his laboratory the perfect place to ramp up our knowledge of the nth metal isotope.

That investigation reveals what we’ve already known – that hatred ruins everything.

It’s been a slow burn that the Bad Samaritan’s presence for the creation of the isotope has had a lot to do with its combustible and highly reactive nature (though Firebrand’s heart surely didn’t help matters either). That gets explained yet further in this issue, and confirmed as well, as slumbering emotions boil over to an alarming pitch.

Happily, Neon finally seems to be catching on. After all, what good are astonishing alchemical creation powers, if you can’t find a way to transmute negative emotions into positive ones?

We’ll get to see next issue how well some of those lessons actually stick, because it’s off to a hell of several billion condemned souls… which come to think of it, makes me wonder if the isotope is really going to be the sort of salvation for himself that Onimar Synn expects it to be…

And finally – we have the art of Ronan Cliquet. Since the very unfortunate loss of Ryan Sook just out of the gates, Cary Nord has been doing his best to live up to the tone set down in the first issue. But the need for a change in perspective has been evident, and Cliquet does not disappoint. His facility with spooky castles is as adept as his take on futuristic wonder tech, and that’s a very good thing on this book. To say nothing of showing us how spectacular a man in a magical winged harness can look when done in the right lines.

All that will come into play and then some, in the issues ahead. Seems there’s a veritable host of demonic monsters lining up to create trouble for our team.

And sure, it’s great to have a member of the Justice League on board to assist… but I sure wouldn’t mind it if we saw a return of old allies to balance the scales.

Next Issue: Astral visions



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