The Great Unknown #1
By Zak Edwards
February 23, 2009 - 14:00
Publisher(s): Image Comics
Writer(s): Duncan Rouleau
Penciller(s): Duncan Rouleau
Letterer(s): Francis Takenaga
Cover Artist(s): Duncan Rouleau
The Great Unknown #1 has probably my most favourite opening to a comic book in my recent memory, and from there an amazing protagonist. Confrontational, egotistical, wearing a freaking “Who is John Galt” t-shirt, I am in love with Duncan Rouleau’s Zach Fled. This series does everything a first issue should: Grabs the reader, forcibly takes them in and, from there, leaves the reader wanting the second issue right now. A warning, while much of the bad language used in The Great Unknown is replaced with things like @ and $$, the book is probably not for the younger ones as much of it will probably fly right over their heads, and not in a redeemable “Shrek is actually a dirty movie” sort of way.
The story is basically about Zach Feld, a genius inventor who manages to have his ideas for patents turned into products by someone else before he actually files them, so basically his ideas are stolen before he can get them out there. But instead of being very science fiction, Rouleau maintains a self-described low-fi sci-fi approach, focusing on philosophical wonderings, people who have been screwed out of being historical figures, and how to justify stealing pop from a 7-11 through arguing for sustainability and rebel economics. Simply put, this book caters to everyone who enjoys Chuck Palahniuk, Wanted (the graphic novel), The Matrix, and other “out of the cubicle” types of work. Of course, Zach Feld has never been to a cubicle, and so his rebellion is almost given to us in media res. But Zach Feld is aggressive, offensive, egotistical, among many other traits which make him an incredibly engaging character and the whole book hinges on him. I must say though, for a series which opens up with the middle finger and a four page explanation of how flipping the bird is the single greatest and profound expression in abstract communication, having all of Zach and company's frequent curses covered up with symbols like @ and # seems stupid. But this is really my only complaint and this series barely suffers for it. For being highly entertaining and also intelligent, Duncan Rouleau has created a fantastic book.
Rouleau is primarily known for his work as an artist for both DC and Marvel Comics, and his art is also a strong point for this issue. I mean, save for one page, the whole thing is blue for some reason I do not understand, but other than this colouring choice, the art is great. The style is fairly cartoonish, which allows for some wonderful stereotyping of people Zach feels the need to be in opposition for. But this itself is played upon with Feld’s parents turning out to be cardboard cut outs. The experience is very cool and I appreciated how Rouleau’s style allows for this moment to be as great as it is. But at the same time, Rouleau’s artistic style allows for his characters to be very expressive in terms of emotion. Wonderful art to match a great story.
9/10 Great art combined with a story that is both highly entertaining and intelligent.
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