The Unthinkables #1
Written by Paul Hanley
Illustrated by Ian Richardson
Earth’s supes just got WTF pwn’d.
It’s up to Max Frenzy and F.I.S.T. to assemble a mismatched selection of leftover “talent” to save us. First-round picks include boozy ex-Soviet super-spy Bloody Mary, psychic Scottish soccer hooligan RiotGrrl, crusty cockney teleporter Noddy Blinkins and,uh… the White Devil (don’t ask). Those are the nice ones. Don’t get us started on the genocidal fish-man and the suicidal robot-nuke.
Y’know, now that we write all that out, it kinda sounds like a f—ing horrible idea, doesn’t it?
All the heroes are dead, who can save us now? Maybe the villains can! Or at least, that’s the premise behind The Unthinkables, a Kickstarted comic from some impressive names in the comic book industry. But issue #1 seems to be about as well thought out as that plan to save us all, that is – not at all.
The idea of having to turn to bad people for salvation has been catching on lately, and while it’s not a unique concept, it is still pretty fresh. There’s a lot left to explore there. Add to that the fact that whatever foe these heroes faced tore through them all with hardly any effort, and the stakes are set high. It’s a nice start to the series.
And speaking of impressive beginnings, let me just say right now that cover B of The Unthinkables #1 is about as striking a comic book cover as I’ve ever seen. The art is amazing. The detail is top-notch. And the design drags you right in. And happily, the art inside the book is practically as high quality. It’s beautiful work. However, just like the cover focuses on how “explicit” and “mature” the content is and completely ignores having anything to do with the story, the artwork within focuses on the gore, violence, and ugliness and also largely ignores any need or desire for a story. The Unthinkables is almost all spectacle, and while spectacle may not be a bad thing, it’s not the stuff of greatness either.
So, all of the super heroes are defeated, right? Should we be worried? We don’t see it happen. We don’t see how it happened. We don’t even know much about these super heroes. We don’t even see who did it. We’re told it’s a bad thing, so I guess we have to trust that, right? So, we turn to the super villains for salvation… why, exactly? There’s no answer. And we know nothing about these villains, either. I’m not sure I’d even call most of them villains from what we do see. I’m not sure I would react much better if armed men showed up at my house threatening to take me away with no explanation. So they defend themselves. How villainous! And most of them are foul-mouthed or ill-mannered. It would seem I have a lot more in common with super villains then I previously thought. The story just isn’t convincing me these are horrible people, or that turning to them to save the world is such a terrible idea. The story isn’t really convincing me of much of anything, honestly… We’re being told everything important and shown nothing but the violence and obscenity. The comic relies on the spectacle of things, and not the impact of the story.
I want to be clear, I don’t have anything against violence or obscenity. What I don’t care for is lack of storytelling. The best comics aren’t purely spectacle, they are the clever use of visual spectacle to tell a compelling story. And there’s very little story here to tell, at least so far. We got more character development in the Kickstarter details than we did in the whole first issue. The Kickstarter does promise that more issues are planned, so maybe we just got as much spectacle in the first issue as possible, in order to really wow the fans. But man, I would have been much more interested in a great story with half the gore and cursing. The Unthinkables #1 really comes across like a book with little to say and a lot to show.
The Unthinkables Settles for Spectacle Over Substance
The Unthinkables takes an interesting premise and a huge cast of characters and ignores them, instead cramming as much violence and obscenity as possible into the first issue. That's a sophomoric way to grab attention, and I hope the story and characters get more screen time in the follow up issues.