An opening story arc that's as focused and entertaining as it is completely bonkers.

Review: UNDISCOVERED COUNTRY VOL. 1 is Well-Honed Chaos

The tremendously talented all-star pair of writers in Scott Snyder and Charles Soule have come together to craft the completely bombastic and highly engaging  Undiscovered Country. Along with a massive visual team consisting of Giuseppe Camuncoli on layouts, pencils from Daniele Orlandini and Leonardo Marcello Grassi, and colors from Matt Wilson, this first volume containing the 6 issues that make up the “Destiny” story arc are a volley of meticulously crafted and completely insane comic issues. This is a highly engaging story with carefully woven threads, compelling characters, and utterly insane visuals. Equal parts  Mad Max, Escape From N.Y, Contagion, and  Saga, Undiscovered Country Vol.1 is among the most entertaining and original comics hitting shelves right now.

“Journey into the near future, and an unknown nation that was once the United States of America—a land that’s become shrouded in mystery after walling itself off from the rest of the world without explanation over thirty years ago. When a team seeking a cure for a global pandemic breaches U.S. borders, they quickly find themselves in a struggle to survive this strange and deadly lost continent!”

Writing & Plot

The major power in Undiscovered Country Vol. 1’s compelling direction is the combined strength of A-List writers Scott Snyder (Batman, American Vampire) and Charles Soule (Daredevil, Letter 44). The two former Swamp Thing writers utilize their combined strengths to craft a story that is rich in originality, character, and complexity but never feels overstuffed. The elements of political thriller, high-octane action, hard sci-fi, and well-constructed character drama are all due to Snyder and Soule’s meticulous process of weaving a narrative that includes a multitude of character stories, double-crosses, and high-concept plot details. This is a masterclass in what can be accomplished in a 6-issue volume without ever losing grip on pacing. The plot is told via the steadily unraveling mystery of what has become of the United States in the time since it has sealed, in combination with flashbacks and historical segues that all manage to be entertaining and fascinating. The presentation of both the plot and the character drama is paced out in perfectly manageable chunks of character interaction and illuminating story events. This volume does so much in terms of how it divulges the story, but it never loses itself in bulky exposition.

Admittedly, when I first saw that Snyder was a part of the project I was a bit worried. While his earlier works such as�� Batman: The Black Mirror,  his New 52 Batman run, and the early volumes of American Vampire are great carefully crafted series, some of his more recent material suffers from being overstuffed and inconsistently paced. Fortunately, Charles Soule is on hand to maintain this comic’s steady pace. Soule has a similar style to Snyder (probably why he was chosen to follow up Snyder’s Swamp Thing run), albeit he’s been notably more consistent in his stories’ quality. Regardless, Undiscovered Country is a series that throws a considerable amount of info at the reader, but it always manages to stay compelling thanks to its pacing and attention to character. The inclusion of the more bombastic and wild features such as the desert-roving mutant men, rolling fortresses, and flying sharks, take a Saga style approach – that is, just put it on the page and take it or leave it. While there is obviously mystery around why the U.S. suddenly looks like this, any explanation at this point is eschewed in favor of fleshing out other more pressing plot threads.

Art Direction

A series with such a complex net of interwoven plot threads and insane concepts needs not just a crack creative team, but a considerable amount of visual direction. As such, Undiscovered Country  Vol. 1 has issue layouts from Giuseppe Camuncoli, who has done a stellar job of constructing how this story visually flows. The shifting perspective in characters, as well as the frequent flashbacks elaborating on the plot, are handled in a smart visual manner that makes these sudden shifts a seamless reading experience. The art is handled by Daniele Orlandini and Leonardo Marcello Grassi (the former on issues 1-4, the letter on 4-6), and it never skips a beat in terms of creativity and detail. The designs of the various wastelanders and their steeds both mechanical and mutated animal are delightfully off-the-wall, and their attention to character detail is stellar. Every character looks wholly unique and their array of expressions makes them easy to interface with as a reader. Although the two artists switch duties just over halfway through this volume, their styles are so similar that the difference is hard to notice. Much of this is likely due to the outstanding coloring of Matt Wilson. His palette here ranges from the dusty browns that permeate the American wasteland to the super-vibrant neon colors that exude from land-sea creatures and the glowing appendages of their masters. The consistent and excellent colors unite the entire visual experience that matches the concise insanity of the script.

Undiscovered Country Vol. 1 is a carefully constructed, highly original, and completely insane 6-issue opening arc that is an absolute joy to behold. The plotting and script of Scott Snyder and Charles Soule is compelling for every page of every issue, and divulges its story through thoughtful character writing and well-earned revelations. The visual work of Giuseppe Camuncoli, Daniele Orlandini, Leonardo Marcello Grassi, and Matt Wilson is a fantastic quilt of creative panel layouts and consistently detailed artwork. Pick up the first volume of this insane romp from your local comic shop on July 8th!

Justin Munday
Justin Munday
Reader and hoarder of comics. Quietly sipping coffee, reading, and watching sci-fi in Knoxville, TN.
Review: UNDISCOVERED COUNTRY VOL. 1 is Well-Honed ChaosAn opening story arc that's as focused and entertaining as it is completely bonkers.