The Unknown #4(of 4)
Written By: Mark Waid
Artwork By: Minck Oosterveer
Mark Waid's The Unknown has been kind of overshadowed by his other series, the evil Superman on a rampage story of Irredeemable, but quietly, Waid and artist Minck Oosterveer have been spinning a fun, exciting yarn with plenty of twists and turns. It's not playing on superhero knowledge at all, it stands alone, and it seems like the most fun Waid has had in years.
For those of you not following the series, the premise is that the world's greatest Detective, Catherine Allingham, and her assistant Joe Doyle are attempting to solve the greatest mystery of all; what happens after we die? Now that's a pretty decent hook on it's own, but Catherine herself has brain cancer, and has only 6 months to live, which adds a sense of urgency and makes the mystery personal. Over the last 3 issues we've followed Catherine and Joe across Europe, solving Quantum Crimes, fighting deadly Ninjas, Insane Monks and mad hallucinations (or are they?), all the while engaging in fun, witty banter that fizzes off the page.
But now we've reached the end, and it's time for our heroes to solve this mystery, and unfortunately... I don't feel that this issue is as good as it could be. I was left very confused by the events which take place in this issue, and while I know that it isn't Mark Waid's place to tell us what happens when we die, I'd at least like him to have a stab at it. There are too many questions left unanswered, who was the thin-lipped grey-faced man? Was Kerberos Immortal? I am leaning one way, but I'd like an inkling. It's even still ambiguous whether or not the supernatural events in the book even happened, or whether they were drug-induced hallucinations. For a mystery, even one as high-minded as this, a little closure would be nice. But then perhaps the whole point is for the answer to remain, well, Unknown.
But that said, this was still a fun issue, Catherine and Joe are both strong characters, they spark off eachother well, and the issue ends with a possible set-up for a sequel. This is a fun book, with great ideas, and Mark Waid should be doing more like this. This concept could run for a long time, and I'd certainly like to see more.
The art by Minck Oosterveer is as good as usual, the mysterious Grey-Faced man is one of the most immediately arresting images I've seen in comics, and even if we are still none the wiser about what the hell he is, at least he looks good! He is a great find for Boom!.
If you've been following The Unknown, this final issue may be disappointing, or it may please you with it's ambiguity, this is a series that works on many levels, there's logic mixed up against the arcane, there's truth mixed up with lies, and there are answers and questions. And if you haven't read this series, take the step into the Unknown.
The Unknown #4 is out this Wednesday from all good comic shops.