I don’t know about you, but sometimes comic books can suck more out of you than what you expect. Not just fiscally, I’m sure anyone who’s reading this has felt their heart drop when they realize how much their 22 page comic with 10 pages of ads cost, but also in the sense the comic book industry, especially the major publishers (Image Comics included) are bound to a very limited form of story. It becomes hard to enjoy reading about the latest way to tell the same story over and over again. That is why I love The Great Unknown. While the story is certainly not one-hundred percent original, if anything can be nowadays, it blends both intelligence with humour and just plain enjoyment to be almost enough to forget Spider-Man, Superman, Batman, and the X-Men have been doing the same thing since day one because his protagonist Zach Feld is certainly not your everyday anti-cubicle protagonist, he is actively attempting to make the world hate him while trying to get them to help him.
Writer and artist Duncan Rouleau has created a character which I have discovered is having trouble being related to by other reviews I have read about the first issue. Zach is a man who is constantly in his own way and is trying very hard to keep throwing things in his way to stop him. The way I look at it, the character’s general lack of appeal is a good thing. Most characters in comic books are very superficially relatable, something Stan Lee discovered audiences love (when you get right down to it, really how is someone like Superman or Batman really relatable either?), and Rouleau has created a man who is completely devoid of any superficiality, and also I fail to see why a book needs to be filled with sympathetic characters, they aren’t real and are no more than ink on a page. Anyways, the character of Zach Feld, I feel, is one of the prime strengths of this mini-series, and while he may get tiresome in an ongoing series, watching him be his own worst enemy while scamming free coffee out of a Starbucks equivalent by stating they bussed his coffee before he was finished is enough for me. In fact, while Zach is this style of character, the story itself is the relatable part. Comics commonly have stories which are very unable to be related to, inter-dimensional space operas or saving the world from evil megalomaniacs, the story of The Great Unknown is an extraction of something we all have experienced: The “Hey, I had that idea last week!” moment. A reversal of sorts, and maybe that reversal is why the book is so refreshing. While this issue lacks much of the punch of the first issue, including the middle finger talk of issue one, these are sacrificed to push the story forward. I’m sure these things will return soon enough as Zach continues to cause problems for himself. And I’ll be there.
The Great Unknown continues to enjoy an artistic style perfectly matching the story. Being fairly cartoonish in style, Rouleau can exaggerate in many ways. Expressions can jump off the page while many characters appear to look exactly the same as the next, which is exactly how the protagonist perceives the world. The color scheme continues to be almost entirely blue for an unknown reason, but at this point, it is hardly noticeable.
8/10 Lacking the punch of the first issue, but still highly enjoyable and refreshing.