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Review – Undiscovered Country #1 (Image Comics)

Undiscovered Country #1 (Image Comics) cover B (detail) by Jock
Overall
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7/10
  • Writing - 6/10
    6/10
  • Art - 8/10
    8/10
  • Overall - 7/10
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Undiscovered Contry #1

Writers: Scott Snyder & Charles Soule
Art: Giuseppi Camuncoli & Daniele Orlandini
Colors: Matt Wilson
Letters: CRANK!
Editor: Will Dennis
Logo Design: Mauro Corradini
Production & Design: Ryan Brewer
Maturity Rating: M
Publisher: Image Comics
Release Date: November 6th, 2019

Thirty years ago, the United States of America closed itself off to the world. For three decades, not a soul has been able to breach its borders—until now. Welcome to Undiscovered Country #1!

Uncle Sam Wants YOU in Undiscovered Country #1

Thirty years ago, the United States of America closed its doors to the world. Over the span of those three decades, humanity has collapsed into total anarchy. A strange new airborne plague threatens the entirety of the global population; once again, the world finds itself in need of a savior. In thirty-odd years, not a single soul has entered the U.S.A. and no one has come out—until now. Welcome to Undiscovered Country #1. 

Writing

Undiscovered Country #1 (Image Comics) cover A by Giuseppe Camuncoli
Undiscovered Country #1 (Image Comics) cover A by Giuseppe Camuncoli

There are a small handful of writers to whom I’ll always give the benefit of the doubt; Scott Snyder is one of them. Not only is he an incredibly talented writer, but Snyder’s also one of the most creative storytellers out there. When he’s on point, few can match his ability. I give this precursor with the utmost respect because Undiscovered Country #1, regrettably, is not Snyder at his best. In fact, this whole issue lacks any real presence of Scott Snyder whatsoever.

The whole concept, unfortunately, falls flat. The story is muddled and lacks any real sense of direction. With no clear protagonist taking the reins, there’s no investment made by the reader. It simply lacks trust. Gone is Snyder’s incredible narrative style; absent is even an attempt to forge a connection between reader and character. This is what I find most challenging on books with a dual author; synergy isn’t always guaranteed. One inevitably becomes responsible for the story while the other defaults to writing the script. Such seems to be the case in Undiscovered Country #1. Snyder is piloting from the back seat while Charles Soule does the driving. Needless to say, we’ve gone down a dirt road.

“I want YOU to save America…”

What’s most frustrating of all, however, is how self-aggrandizing the book is at times. At it’s worst, it’s chest-thumping: a Nascar crowd shouting “U-S-A-!” But mostly it’s just, by and large, unbelievable. In a mere three decades, absent the U.S.A., the planet collapses on itself? The timeline is just too short. Furthermore, the country’s topography has completely transmogrified into some strange science-fiction landscape. How? It’s hard to wrap your head around. There has to be some sort of time manipulation for this to make any sort of sense. That’s my guess, anyway, at least for now.

My main concern is Undiscovered Country #1 lacks context and is in desperate need of depth. If anyone is able to “right the ship”, however, it’s Scott Snyder. He and Soule have poured the foundation; now they just need to reinforce the frame. 

Art

I have to say that I’m a huge fan of the logo/cover for Undiscovered Country #1. Depicting the continent of North America, absent the United States, creates a very daunting, even creepy, vibe. Simultaneously, it effortlessly communicates one of the biggest themes of the book, which is “a world divided and torn apart”. 

Between the covers, Undiscovered Country #1 is gorgeous. Giuseppe Camuncoli and Daniele Orlandini‘s America looks like a hybrid cross between the Death Star and the Walls of Troy. It’s rife with sprawling splash pages and incredibly cool “death derby” motor vehicles. Camuncoli also does an impeccable job of subtly communicating an underlying fear element through his characters. His ability to expertly capture and convey emotion, to the point where it’s quite literally jumping off the page, is one of the most enjoyable aspects of Undiscovered Country #1

Finally, the colors of Matt Wilson are truly what binds everything together. There are so many tiny, insurmountable details in Undiscovered Country #1 that without that brazenly beautiful matte palette, they’d be totally lost. Wilson is a master of reading the mood of a panel and applying his color technique in such a way that it accentuates and propels the scene even further. 

Conclusion

I’m extremely hopeful for Undiscovered Country. It has all of the makings to become an incredible series and, rest assured, I’m still reading along—albeit with somewhat bated breath. The first issue was simply lacking in execution. There are some big holes to fill as far as the plot and overall story arc are concerned. Also, and maybe this is just me, but if you’re going to market an “oversized issue” then make it an oversized issue. I’m all for insights into the creative process, but three full pages of Snyder droning on and on, followed by another three full pages of the scrutiny over logos and cover design, is just not necessary. Save it for the collected edition and just give us more of the story!


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Jordan Claes

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