Comic Book Review: The Unexpected #1
Once more into the breach we go with yet another addition to The New Age of Heroes. I’m actually impressed right now because I did not think there would still be more stories to debut. That says a lot about how serious they are taking this initiative. When I saw the name, The Unexpected, I didn’t know what to make of it like the others. Was this something I needed to know as a story spinning out of Dark Nights: Metal? Getting answers like that was a big attraction.
From the start of this issue, I felt instantly engaged because this wasn’t a story where you needed to know the events of Dark Nights: Metal. You just needed to know how the events of that catastrophe affected someone like our main character, Janet Fals, the Firebrand. Her story was quick and to the point. I actually felt excitement from it considering her circumstance and how she has tried to make the best of it. A strong contrast to a kid like Sideways who got himself in over his head and falls towards the predictable problems that come with being a teen. Not to mention a more unique situation to deal with compared to Damage who can only power up for an hour every 24 hours. Having to start a fight once every 24 hours to feed the Conflict Engine that’s replaced her heart was creative. For power powerful she comes off as, this was a great twist which challenges the way she goes about her days as Janet and Firebrand.
Janet you find admirable because she doesn’t let this big change to her life stop her from being who she is. There obviously is the struggle not to lose who she is to the conflict engine, but that only further emphasizes what she has lost and tries to maintain. I only hope that being thrown outside of her comfort zone through the events of this issue does not tone down what was initially thought of to be badass about Janet as Firebrand.
When this beacon in Janet’s chest summoned the mysterious Neon the Unknown and the malevolent Bad Samaritan, very quickly the atmosphere of this story changed. It was thrilling, even if for part of the story I was getting used to the idea that this was all focusing on Janet primarily. Through the establishing of motivations, I was satisfied that this wasn’t a plot that they were trying to make too complicated. The easiest way to lose readers is to go too big, and to that point where they are forced to comprehend more than simply enjoy. Now with that said, there are still mysteries here, and there was no expectation that everything would be cleared up one-hundred percent by the end of this issue. Its a good start considering how we are once again finding out that there is still much more to fear from what lies beyond. Especially that which still exists within the Dark Multiverse.
I felt drawn in by just the first page alone, and that was a good sign for me. It was one thing to read about this Firebrand, but another thing to see her in action and full of such fire. Her character design was very unique between the markings on her body leading up to her heart, and the way her power digs into her personality. Everything about her is pretty intense when creating that distinction between Janet and Firebrand. It helped a lot to have artists who were very detailed in their work. They did not skip a beat going from scene to scene whether it was characters, objects, or settings. Everything was fully rendered which has a big effect on engagement. Especially when a majority of this issue takes place in a hospital where Janet would truly feel the conflict between who she is now and who will always be at heart. It was also creative how they approached the rest of these characters as well. Nothing too crazy, but each had something about them that really stood out. Particularly those like Quench and Turid. With that said, FCO was a perfect choice as color artist for the way these colors popped. There was great depth to the colors used whether it was the range for texture, or the intensity to add flair.
The Unexpected #1 is another contender for one of the best debuts from The New Age of Heroes line. Firebrand is a new kind of hero entirely, and her story slices a unique corner of the DC Universe that we have never explored before. It was exciting to follow this introduction from start to finish thinking it was going to be one thing, and then become another thing. Keeping us on our toes about what comes next is going to be key to creating investment in what this series has to offer.