by Tom Farr
Comic book writer Scott Snyder is probably best known for his work on Batman, especially his Court of Owls storyline, but he's also the writer behind DC's popular Dark Knights: Metal and Death Metal events. Charles Soule is just as prolific, having written for Marvel's X-Men, She-Hulk, and several Star Wars comics. They're both talented storytellers in the comic book medium, and together, they're a powerhouse creative force. Their creator-owned comic book series Undiscovered Country with Image Comics is currently eight issues in, and every issue is full of surprises and an invitation to keep going.
A United States closed off from the rest of the world
The story's premise is that the United States closed off its borders and walled itself off from the rest of the world over thirty years ago. The world has changed drastically in the three decades without American influence. Still, the most significant problem the main characters face is a global pandemic called Sky, which is wiping out the world's population. Charlotte Graves is a scientist desperately searching for a cure when she's invited to be a part of a team that includes her brother Daniel.
When they get a message from the United States, the first anyone has heard thirty years, it's from a mysterious Dr. Elgin. It comes with a promised cure for the Sky virus if they come to America to get it. Charlotte, Daniel, a journalist, an army colonel, American expert, and a team of diplomats embark on a journey to America. However, what they find is a shocking de-evolution of a civilized America.
In addition to discovering the mysteries of what's happened to the country and searching for a cure to Sky, the team must find a way to survive the deadly sci-fi landscape that Soule and Snyder created. The world of the story is made all the more impressive with the standout visuals created by Daniele Orlandini and Giuseppe Camuncoli
Exploring a future America similar to our own
Even though it's a sci-fi story set in the future, with Undiscovered Country, Soule and Snyder have been able to explore a United States that is sharply divided by vastly different worldviews over what being American is about, which is strangely relevant to the the divisions of today. It's also a story that is enriched by a cursory knowledge of American history and iconography. As an educator, I sincerely appreciate this aspect of the story.
There's only so far a story can be carried by sci-fi mysteries. However, the real strength of Undiscovered Country is the characters. Enormously complex, each character has a vested interest in discovering whatever lies behind the walls that separate the US from the rest of the world. Arguably, Charlotte and Danielle are the characters that drive most of the story with a complex history that includes their parents. They are somehow tied to the sealing of the US. Still, Soule and Snyder do a great job exploring the other characters' backstories in a compelling way.
Eight issues in, Undiscovered Country continues to deliver non-stop surprises, mysteries and complex character development.
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