The Unexpected #8 – Steve Orlando, Writer; Ronan Cliquet, Artist; Jeromy Cox, Colorist
Ray – 7/10
Corrina: Glimpses of What Could Have Been
Ray: As The Unexpected wraps up its run with this final issue, The Unexpected #8, it’s clear what the series’ problem was as a whole – I have never actually been sure who the title was about. Between Firebrand, Neon the Unknown, and Hawkman, the narrative has shifted frequently and often been covered up in a parade of explosive cosmic action scenes. When we last left off, Mandrakk the Dark Monitor had regained his powers and had Hawkman and Firebrand at his mercy. As he drains their powers, Neon the Unknown and the Bad Samaritan find themselves in limbo. Seemingly killed off last issue, the two ancient enemies now spiral in an endless lava whirlpool. Neon makes the fateful decision to save his old rival, and that sends the issue spiraling in a new direction. The issue’s teased the link between these two a lot, but this issue makes it more explicit. I wish we had gotten to learn more about them before the final issue.
In the surface world, Mandrakk has Firebrand and Hawkman at the brink of death when the two cosmic forces return from death. The unconventional team charges Mandrakk and Neon gets his hands on him – transforming Mandrakk from a force of life-draining energy to one who can only feed off Dark Matter. This forces him back to the Dark Multiverse, and the team goes their own directions. Hawkman, obviously, has his own series to continue, but the story does an effective job of summing up Firebrand’s new direction along with Neon and Samaritan’s.
The problem is, this series was never quite what it hyped – two cast members were killed off in the first issue – and none of the main characters truly clicked as a lead. Orlando seems to be stronger when he’s working with one distinct lead, like his work with Midnighter or J’onn J’onnz. This goes down as an ambitious series with mixed execution.
Corrina: There’s something lovely in this conclusion, with the ostensible hero, Neon, admitting that he’s misjudged the ostensible villain, Bad Samaritan. It’s the kind of redemption that works well in superhero comics, as the hero finds that his compassion is the best weapon to use against the ultimate threat, Mandrakk.
It’s that part that makes me wish this series had been given more time. I’m not sure why most of these “New Age of DC Heroes” books haven’t worked. Most of them seem muddled in execution, as this one did, as if they can’t decide what they want to be. But every so often, as with this conclusion, there are moments that show the lost potential, what they could have been.
Plus, I admit, I do love that Neon’s hair covers his eyes. It’s a silly look, as are many of the character designs in the series, but it works for his vibe and…I might even begin to like the style of the ridiculous Bad Samaritan.
To find reviews of all the DC issues, visit DC This Week.
Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.