"The Complete Doc Unknown" Graphic Novel Review
Written by Shane D. Keene
Published by Dark Horse Comics
Originally published as Doc Unknown #1 - #18
Written by Fabian Rangel Jr. and Ryan Cody
Illustrated by Ryan Cody, Phil Sloan, Jim McMunn, and John Broglia
2017, 372 pages
Graphic Novel released on July 19, 2017
When I first took this book on for review, I confess to being skeptical about it. I noticed right away that the artwork is great, and it’s a Dark Horse publication—one of my favorite publishers—so it had those things going for it from the jump. But I also saw that it looked like a super hero sort of thing and I’m very selective about that sort of material. I dig the Spawn and Hellboy franchises and just about anything else that’s dark and unusual like that, but I’m not a big fan of the average golden boy/girl, sparkling teeth and magnificent physique kind of stuff. So, I went into it with a chip of sorts, ready to toss it aside at the first twinkle of an eye, or any other indicator that it was just your average, everyday goody two-shoes sort of rag. So, color me tickled black and blue when I discovered that it’s anything but the usual mundane fare.
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It's likely obvious from the above statement that the Doc Unknown series was unfamiliar to me, but it only took an issue or two in this behemoth of an omnibus before I became a steadfast devotee. Because, in addition to having a well-written script, and excellent ink work and coloring, it’s also dark as fuck, a statement which you can interpret as right up my alley. Doc isn’t fighting your average super villains with world-wrecking weapons and a deep-seated desire to rule the world. Like Doc himself, the bad gals and guys he’s fighting are way beyond the normal offerings in this type of comic. With vampire ninjas, siren-like fish women, and a raft of other hideous monstrosities to battle, our intrepid hero is the only thing that stands between Gate City and the darkness that threatens to engulf it.
The Complete Doc Unknown is a massive tome of pulpy horror and a comprehensive and entertaining storyline that held my interest cover to cover in one sitting. But the real magic of the thing, the one that takes it from good to brilliant, is the incredible artwork. Retro, often subdued, but sometimes in your face, the ink work and coloring make the book, giving you a vivid, visual cornucopia of breathtaking action and panel arrangements that serve the purpose of driving the story, setting the fever pitch pacing and hurling you headlong into this sensory thrillfest of stunning violence and cliffhanging suspense. I can’t begin to fathom just how torturous it must have been for anyone who had to suffer the wait between issues over the course of the original series, left clinging to the edge of the story and itching to know what happens next.
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