November 28, 2021

Gabbing Geek

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Comic Review: Undiscovered Country Volume 2

The explorers push into the next zone of the one time United States to find what may be a technological utopia, but is probably something else.

Undiscovered Country was a book that, I felt, had a good deal of promise in its premise and overall mystery, but the characters the book was about were much less compelling.  Sure, it had writers Scott Snyder and Charles Soule collaborating on it, but that didn’t mean it was something I would find compelling enough to read into all that quickly.

I opted to go on anyway, recently finishing the second volume, subtitled Unity.

Good news for me this time around:  the series got noticeably better with the second collection.  The mystery deepened a bit while providing some more answers, and the characters started to grow on me.  Even the two ambassadors, interchangeable in many ways in volume one, started to develop more distinct personas.  That’s all good.

Now, the central idea to Undiscovered Country was that, at some point decades earlier, the United States (plus or minus Hawaii and various island territories but including Alaska) shut itself off from the rest of the world thanks to some sort of advanced technology that made it impossible to come in or out of what was once America.  This volume, through a series of flashbacks, offers a bit more information on what happened there.  By this point, the country had more or less decided to cut itself off for an experiment of some kind, and the nation on the inside further subdivided itself into thirteen zones.  The protagonists of this series landed in the first zone, Destiny, where mobile Walmart superstores and sharks that swam through sand were the primary means of transportation for the Mad Max refugees that called that area home.

It turns out each of the thirteen zones represents some aspect of American culture that Americans feel pride for.  That zone was for the more libertarian streak that many American possess, but it went too far.  The next zone the protagonists visit is Unity, and that’s where America’s innovators went and technology flourished.  On the surface, it seems a much more peaceful place to be.  There’s another Uncle Sam figure (each zone has its own apparently),and the Graves’s siblings can access a final message from their parents, two people who knew the barriers were going up and sent their young children to live overseas days before that happened.

Does Unity have a cure for the deadly plague Sky ravaging the rest of the world?  The hopeful answer is “Not yet,” and perhaps the explorers can stop “walking the spiral” to see what the other zones have to offer.

Granted, there’s two problems here.  The first is Destiny’s de factor boss, the deadly Destiny Man, also managed to get through to Unity, and the only technological innovation he favors are weapons.  The second is, well, this whole zone has to be too good to be true, doesn’t it?  It’s just a matter of waiting for the other shoe to drop there.

As I said, I liked this one far more than I did the first volume, and the conclusion suggests the third zone may be looking at the American entertainment industry.  If the series continues to improve as much as this first one did, I will be happy to keep going.

9 out of 10 misused Woody Guthrie songs.

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