August 15, 2022

Gabbing Geek

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Comic Review: Undiscovered Country Volume 3

The team finds the part of what was once America that focuses on creation and myth.

Alright, that weird sci-fi comic about a future America that cut itself off from the rest of the world until a group of specifically selected diplomats are sent in to maybe find a cure for a plague killing the rest of the world…I am back for that.  The first volume had the team crossing a desert where sharks and Wal-Marts were mobile and represented the libertarian streak found in so many Americans.  The second zone was about the hope that advanced technology would bring.  Both zones were broken.  What’s up next?

Creativity apparently, as seen in the third volume, subtitled Possibility.

Undiscovered Country as a series is something of a celebration of all things America, but it also isn’t afraid to point out where the weaknesses and flaws are.  This is a world where many years earlier, the United States somehow set up a barrier that kept out, well, everybody.  The country was divided into zones, and as the group of diplomats, scholars, and scientists work their way closer to the center where there may be a cure for the plague known only as the Blue.  Each zone so far has some temptations to stay, but the group soon realizes they need to move on to whatever weird place is next.

The Possibility Zone looks like an open ocean with a lot of islands, each one set up for a different sort of creation.  There’s a music island, a tall tales island, even an island for superheroes.  However, there’s a twist here:  this is the first zone without any people in it.  The creative geniuses in America when the barrier went up were there with a machine that could recreate their creations in robotic form, but at a certain point, the creativity dried up without anyone to appreciate the creations, and the robots rose up and attacked their creators.  Now the machines can’t be creative on their own, and to that end, they need humans.  But in order to move on, the expedition needs to create a masterpiece…maybe.  That’s hardly something that people without a background in that sort of thing can do.  Besides, there is an enemy here that has his own agenda.  See, figures of American myth and legend are here, and that includes the Crossroads Devil, the being who will give musical talent if you sell him your soul.  And, well, you can’t really trust the devil, can you?

There’s a lot of thought put into this series.  This is a zone where George Washington rubs shoulders with film noir gangsters.  Superheroes want to do nothing but save the life of any person they encounter, whether the person needs saving or not.  There’s even a mechanized One Man Band made up of many musical instruments who just wants to hear a new song.  What becomes of a creation when the creator is gone?  Short answer:  nothing good.

Now, the different members of the group are still kinda vague to me, but that may be due to the fact I only read this series sporadically when I learn there’s a new trade out.  That said, I did get a kick out of this one.  The Possibility Zone is about more than pop culture entertainment, and there’s a lot of cool designs here, including a Titanic that is perpetually half underwater.  The trade ends with a major revelation about the antagonistic Destiny Man who has been pursuing the group since the first zone, and the next zone (or possibly more than one zone) is set up for the next trade.  Even if the characters aren’t grabbing me, the story and its setting does.  Say what you will about the series, but it is clear writers Scott Snyder and Charles Soule put a lot of thought into what this future world would look like, and that alone is worth the trip.

9 out of 10 karaoke champions saving the day.

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