"Doc Unknown: Volume 3 – The War for Gate City" Trade Paperback Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by Believe In Comics
Written by Fabian Rangel Jr
Illustrated by Ryan Cody
2015, 104 Pages
Gate City has its share of problems. It's not Gotham or anything, but there are all sorts of dastardly folks up to no good. Fortunately, Doc Unknown defends the city with two clenched fists ready to punch crime right in its turkey neck. The man does not back down. Whether it's a horde of creatures from Atlantis, an ancient rival, or a giant rampaging monster hell-bent on destroying the city, the man rushes head first into action.
At the end of the day, Doc Unknown is just a man. Sure, he has a spiritual connection, but he's not Dr. Strange or anything. He's also not Batman. Instead, he relies on what he has, which isn't much. Doc Unknown has a lair, a motorcycle, a pair of awesome looking goggles, and a thirst for justice. He's going to need all of those things and more to combat the forces of evil that are gathering to put him down once and for all.
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The third and final volume of Doc Unknown has been building for some time. Writer / Creator Fabian Rangel Jr pulls from every aspect of the story to date to tie up each of them as the book rockets towards its conclusion. Some of this feels a little rushed, with a lot of information crammed into these pages. I would have loved to see some of these pieces explored a bit further, but in many ways it’s unnecessary. By the time you realize that all this is happening so quickly, it doesn't matter. You're wrapped up in the adventure and the chaos that's raining down on Gate City. This is the climactic final battle.
The action is top notch here, with some tremendous fight scenes. Artist Ryan Cody packed this book with so much pulp fun. There are tons of little moments throughout the battles that just scream cool, like a shot of Doc Unknown unsheathing a blade literally hidden up his sleeve before dueling with the villainous Shen-Ru. Cody has a nice blend of big action and solid character moments that are filled with heart. This isn't a popcorn flick. It's got substance to it.
Cody has been drawing these characters for several issues now, so he's got a great handle on them; from the intimidating Boss Snake to the creepy two-headed child skeleton. There is a monster introduced towards the end of this book that is like the stuff of nightmares. It's like if Godzilla and Cthulhu had a kid. What's really unsettling about this beast is that it has two mouths. It just looks so unnatural and really works to ramp up the terror. If it somehow misses eating you with the first mouth, the second one will gobble you up.
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If long-running series like Batman or Superman were ever to end, I hope that they hold a candle to the satisfying conclusion seen in Doc Unknown. It really cements how strong this character is within this world and the legacy that he creates as a result of his heroic actions. It's inspiring and heartbreaking all at once. It makes you wish for more comics, but at the same time, serves as a very worthwhile ending.
Doc Unknown is like a cross between Hellboy and Batman: The Animated Series. You can see a heavy influence from both. It can stand toe-to-toe with those stories as an incredible read. If you're even a casual fan of either of those titles, you'll want to check this out. It's dripping with pulp adventure and is downright fun.