REVIEW: ‘Undiscovered Country,’ Issue #12

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Undiscovered Country #12

Undiscovered Country #12 is the end of the second act of the sci-fi adventure series published by Image Comics. Written by Scott Snyder and Charles Soule, art by Giuseppe Camuncoli and Leonardo Marcello Grassi, with colours from Matt Wilson and letters by Crank! 

A team of outsiders entered America 30 years after it was sealed off from the rest of the world. They entered searching for the cure to the lethal Sky Virus but have found themselves forced to travel a country that has changed forever. Over the last six issues, our heroes have been in Unity, a seemingly perfect technological utopia. Dr. Jaina, the woman in charge of the region, controls everyone and everything in it. Much of the group, including Chang and the Graves siblings, have started to settle within those walls. 

But Ace and Valentina have discovered something disturbing; Unity is maintained and powered using the minds of children, willingly sacrificed by its citizens. Horrified by the revelation, Jaina allows the group to leave. But it was an illusion; they are trapped.

This issue reveals that the six heroes are entangled in the web created by Jaina and stuck fast. With no means of escape, all seems lost within the band of would-be explorers. But there has been a wound within Unity that seeks to unplug everything within it. The Destiny Man, a terrifying menace from another zone, has been festering and attacking Jaina, forcing her to fight on multiple fronts. While she is distracted, Chang and Charlotte travel into the core of the city. What keeps the city going may just be the thing to bring it crashing down.

The themes that emerged within this sector of the Spiral reach their zenith within this issue, as the flaws within the masterpiece start to be exposed. The Destiny Man is a man of technology himself too, but he has a different purpose.

Undiscovered Country #12 is a huge book, feeling like an arc within itself. Despite its size, the structure is even, with the momentum constantly building to an explosive finale. The end of each arc is gratifying as it wraps up multiple character development points and the storyline of the Unity zone. The end of the issue is a massive surprise and will likely have lasting consequences in the future.

The characters are again shining examples of Soule and Snyder’s writing. One of the brilliant aspects of Undiscovered Country #12 is that there are duplicates of the six heroes above ground, taking the place of their real counterparts. Their purpose is to reach Aurora, the entity in charge of this bizarre landscape. But at their introduction, the characters state their names, almost as a reintroduction to the reader. But as they say their names, they also give two words to describe what their roles are, both in the mission and within the comic. For example, Marcus is “I protect” while Valentina’s is “I tell the truth.” It’s a fantastic attempt to sum up what each of these characters does by the writers.

While Snyder and Soule have many characters at their disposal, they are patient and careful not to cram the pages with their dialogue. Each character has had an opportunity to shine within the arc, so they don’t have huge moments within this particular issue. The characters that have important roles in this comic are Chang and Charlotte, as it falls to them to save their team. But that is not to say that everyone else is useless, as both Ace and Marcus get chances later on.

This is possibly the last we see of Dr. Jaina, who has been phenomenal as a villain. Her constant calmness has been disturbing, considering the horrors she has performed over the last 30 years. The battle between her and the Destiny Man has constantly been upgrading, with neither wanting to stay down. The most terrifying part of Jaina’s character is she never once feels remorse for what she has done. She is adamant that Unity was bliss and perfect. 

The chaos of the series continues in this issue, and it is portrayed most in the art. Despite the insanity, the reader always knows what is happening. The battle between the two zone leaders increases in scale, with both characters now 25ft tall. The fight is gory and giant and glorious as the hatred for each other reaches its peak. Even with everything going on, with all the characters and destruction, Camuncoli and Grassi maintain the exquisite detail in both the foreground and background. Jaina’s true form is as skin-crawling as ever, the real consequence of living as long as she has.

The horror aspects of the series return in Undiscovered Country #12 as Unity’s heart is revealed. How this is represented is haunting and one of the somber features of the comic. Because it actually implies something that Unity has always seemed to lack: souls. 

The colours by Wilson are superb, as he actually is able to utilize more than just white. The characters are held in red pods created by Jaina’s tendrils, the most vibrant colour we’ve seen for many issues. The black of the Destiny Man is the stark opposite of everything around him, adding to the danger the reader feels when he is on the page. Wilson has also used anaglyphic art at times, the red and blue lines overlapping with each other that stands out against the white. This feels like a unique technique within comics. One finds themselves disorientated and unsettled as they gaze on the panel, like looking at a 3D book without the glasses. This is not a criticism; it’s a unique design choice that really adds to the Unity region.

Crank! Is consistently superb on letters. With all of the madness happening around the word balloons, they are clear and easy to read. When SFX are used, they often match the panel’s dominant color, so they don’t detract from the detail on the page.

Undiscovered Country #12 is a stunning, intense end to a terrific second arc. Despite this series hitting a dozen issues and hundreds of miles, it is still brimming with energy and intrigue. The action and art have always been one of the comic’s big selling points, and it never disappoints. Soule and Snyder truly understand these characters, which has been clear from their first appearances. Every member of the creative team is at the top of their game and appears to be having fun depicting the chaos. Undiscovered Country is taking a break for a few months before the next arc arrives. But I want it right now because I can’t wait to see what happens next.

Undiscovered Country #12 is available wherever comics are sold.

Undiscovered Country #12
5

TL;DR

Undiscovered Country #12 is a stunning, intense end to a terrific second arc. Despite this series hitting a dozen issues and hundreds of miles, it is still brimming with energy and intrigue. The action and art have always been one of the comic’s big selling points, and it never disappoints. Soule and Snyder truly understand these characters, which has been clear from their first appearances. Every member of the creative team is at the top of their game and appears to be having fun depicting the chaos.