Undiscovered Country #5 is published by Image Comics. Written in tandem by Charles Soule and Scott Snyder. Art by Giuseppe Camuncoli and Leonardo Marcello Grassi, colours by Matt Wilson and letters by Crank!
In the fifth issue in the series, the central character through both the main plot and the flashback is Colonel Pavel, the war hero assigned initially to get the team in and out of America. Captured since Undiscovered Country #1, Pavel plots to escape from his torturous existence, suspended on the walls that divide the regions of the Spiral. At the same time, the past appears to be haunting the old soldier, detailing the circumstances of his instatement as a war hero and his attempt to adapt to life afterwards. Elsewhere in the wasteland, Marcus and Lottie Graves have a powerful conversation after the multitude of revelations in the last issue, while the rest of the team make their own escape from the Destiny Man’s fortress.
A big argument could be made that there is a theme of escape spanning through the pages of Undiscovered Country #5. All three different focal points of the present-day story feature it at some point of the issue. This issue did initially appear to be slower than the other issues, but after the chaotic, fast-paced four parts that preceded this one, an issue with a calmer tempo that gives the audience a chance to breathe is welcome. And as the issue ramps up there are still more than enough intense crashes, fights and chases to stop the reader from getting tired of a scene. The pace is slow though because the plot takes a back seat to let the characters build again. And with these fantastic characters, I could read pages of them talking all day.
Despite the excitement of the present-day story, the event in the past is where Undiscovered Country #5 shines. Each one of these backstories gives the characters so many extra levels of depth. Pavel’s discomfort after being decorated as this great hero is palpable. When he’s revered by a crowd in an open-topped bus, driven through Paris as part of a victory parade, Camuncoli and Grassi fantastically capture just how stiff the Colonel looks in his military regalia. Pavel’s backstory is such a saddening exploration of the glorification of someone who doesn’t feel like they’re worthy of being glorified.
The art is still sublime. The looks of anger and pain and heartbreak on character’s faces throughout the panels give this vast, expansive story so much emotion. Pavel’s lost, sometimes terrified look on his face in the flashbacks creates such sympathy for the character. But what the art also brings is a whole rocket full of fun. When Marcus and Lottie have their heart-to-heart, driving along the road in a bright pink car propelled forward by land-eating sea creatures, the absurdity of the situation never fails to make me grin. And a particularly favourite vehicle in this series is the space shuttle powered by balloons.
A special shoutout has to be given to Wilson in Undiscovered Country #5. The colours are stunning and are so influential in filling the Spiral with its beautiful but awful atmosphere. The pink light washing over Pavel and the other prisoners hanging helplessly over the wall conveys intense, brutal heat. And the light blue colours covering Pavel on the first page, hidden in a cave, make him freezing cold. The use of colour in a world so full of detail gives it its life. The pink finish on the car, the blue in Lottie’s hair. It all adds up to this being one of the most immersive books on the market. Crank! ’s lettering is also fantastic, with the word balloons very easy to follow. In a comic where you’re hanging off every line of dialogue, having such great lettering makes a comic flow so much better.
Undiscovered Country #5 is a fantastic addition to the series that simultaneously makes my heart both race and break. The characters are still making me love and hate them respectively. The art is gorgeous as always. Soule and Snyder’s scripts are still utterly enthralling. While a lot of the issue has a feel of filler to it, in particular the conversation between Marcus and Lottie, the comic more has the nerve-wracking, seriously ominous atmosphere of an oncoming storm.
This issue needed to exist to line everyone up for Undiscovered Country #6. In his letter at the end of the book, Soule mentions that the next, issue is the end of the current arc, and promises “massive action” and “huge twists and turns.” Something huge is coming next issue. With how often surprises appear along the Spiral, I have no idea what. But with how amazing the last five issues have been, I can’t wait to find out what.
Undiscovered #5 releases March 18th and is available wherever comics are sold.
Undiscovered Country #5 is a fantastic addition to the series that simultaneously makes my heart both race and break. The characters are still making me love and hate them respectively.
Screenwriter with a love of comics and movies. Once referred to Wuthering Heights as “the one with the Rabbits.”