Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Super-Powered Comics: The Unknown

Mark Waid has written some of my favorite and least favorite title runs. While some of his work leaves me flat, more often than not he produces some real winners. One of his finest was his 2001 other-world Sherlock Holmes in Ruse. While Waid wouldn’t stay with Crossgen long, he produced amazing work unlike any he produced before.

I never figured he would capture that fire again, but he does in the pages of The Unknown. The book follows the adventures of the real world’s greatest detective Catherine Allinghan and her new confidant James Doyle. It seems Catherine only has six months left to live, and she plans to solve all life’s great mysteries in her remaining months. The only problem is she may not be in her right mind as visions of a strange, deathly figure continue to reoccur in her mind.

They set out to solve the case revolving a quantum box and the disappearance of the man illegally inside of it. In the process, they stumble in to a deeper conspiracy one peeled away in layers as supernatural forces move against Catherine and Doyle. And by the end of the run, we can begin to suspect Catherine’s visions are not delusions... as even Doyle sees the ghastly figure.

Waid imbues Catherine and Doyle with all the life he gave to a certain other pair of detectives eight years ago. Aided and abetted by Dutch artist Minck Oosterveer who imbues every character in the book with life. All of this comes behind stunning covers (on my editions) by Eric Jones, although other variants do exist.

The Unknown wraps the detective story in an occult milieu with a dying woman with near superhuman deductive ability as the star. Beautiful art on top of an excellent story guarantee that even at a $3.99 price point, this one gets a Highly Recommended. If you prefer the $24.99 hardcover (available at a hefty discount at the Amazon link above) is now available.

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