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‘The Unexpected #6’ (review)

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

 

“I will have my Nth metal isotope! Earth’s billions of souls await my hunger!”

“Not while I’m standing!”

Or hey, flying. Whatever you gotta do, Carter.

This is a tremendously satisfying issue.

After 5 roller-coaster months of a brand-new threat and a brand-new assemblage of paladins to combat it, things are really starting to come together now.

Unfortunately for our heroes, that undertaking has them ricocheting from one crisis to another in this issue, with little time to catch their bearings.

Good thing they’ve begun to put this puzzle together. Too bad they’re not the only ones.

The secret to the nth metal isotope and the solution to quelling its devastating instability, both lie in Neon’s grasp. All that’s needed is a catalyst to bring those answers into focus. A catalyst like being consumed by an ancient Thanagarian devil-god.

The resolution of that dilemma, while particularly dramatic and appropriate, leads directly from one crisis to another, and a desperate course forward that, in a blink, sends Firebrand, Neon and Hawkman warping between the very strands of reality, to be transported directly to… The Bleed.

In the ever-evolving world-building ferment of the DCU, and its voracious appetite for old franchises and properties, it’s always gratifying when something comes out of left field to tie in something that is, on the one hand very familiar, and on the other, completely unexpected. (There’s that word.)

That’s exactly what Steve Orlando has pulled off here, and the ambition of the effort is captivating. For one thing, his take on The Bleed, the crimson interdimensional interstitial void-space popularized in the original Wildstorm Universe’s first Authority run is… different.

Quite different. For another, he doesn’t stop there.

And why should he?

DC has done just enough to integrate the Wildstorm Universe by now, with a variety of stories that involve this very particular reality-spanning property, that at this point I wouldn’t be surprised to suddenly see Captain Atom, Blue Beetle, or Jenny Sparks herself show up in these pages. And the simple fact of that is utterly enjoyable, even if none of it never happens.

As it happens, there’s maybe an even more likely guest-star candidate, a possibility that presents itself when Adannu the Tempus Fuginaut makes an unexpected (if not wholly unsurprising) entrance. Add to that the triumphant return of one of the very worst demons of the new DCU, and suddenly you have a convergence of narrative threads that seems to go to the very heart of the DC multiverse entire, as well as the, well… forces of creation and destruction that lie at the foundation of it all.

With all that going on, it might just be about time to get the band back together.

Someone’s been playing a dangerous game. Remains to be seen who’s going to win it.

Ronan Cliquet joins Steve Orlando for top billing on the storytelling of this month’s wonder-fest, and he lives up to the marquee. His art is clean and energetic, with hints of Neal Adams and John Romita, Jr. throughout. He’s a good fit for Orlando and this book, and I hope he’ll stick around.

He’d better not mind things getting a little messy, though. Someone’s hungry.

Next issue: To Be Continued..?

 

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