Sunday, November 8, 2009

Comic Review: The Unknown: The Devil Made Flesh

Boom Studio's series The Unknown: The Devil Made Flesh is a curious mix of procedural and occult story with a strong noir influence. Issue #2 continues the story of Catherine Allingham, the "world's greatest detective" who has been diagnosed with terminal cancer. Allingham has set out to solve the greatest mystery of what happens after death while she is following clues regarding the death of her partner. Her investigation takes her to Mountain Oak, Alabama on a lead provided by an almost supernaturally precocious child investigator. The small town is the site of a grisly mass murderer.

There are a lot of great ideas in The Unknown and it is obviously a big sprawling story that is difficult to evaluate from just one issue. I particularly like the character of the mysterious boy investigator, who seemingly attained an adult level of maturity over night and has to pretend to be a normal kid. The story also plays with the idea of Catherine's hallucinations which pop up every now and then and even features a cameo from Freddy Mercury, of all people. It is an interesting choice to balance Catherine as both mentally competent and also someone who is clearly psychologically unwell.

Despite the strengths of the writing, the art lacks a certain amount of subtlety. Catherine and her new partner, Adriana are designed as busty sexpots, which is a bit tired. Facial expressions are often exaggerated and cartoony and the overall color palette is over saturated for what should be a dark, film-noir detective story replete with amnesia and double crosses. A story that features a detective with terminal cancer and lumber mill where human bodies are being ground up should be a bit darker. If you can over look the rather pedestrian artwork, The Unknown: The Devil Made Flesh presents a good and involving story that keeps you guessing as to what will happen next.

Patrick Garone
Staff Reviewer

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