Written by: Steve Orlando
Art by: Cary Nord
Published by: DC Comics
Reviewed by: Simon “BlaxKleric” Moore
It’s difficult to believe that any reader was able to comprehensively follow Steve Orlando’s narrative for Issue Two of “The Unexpected” without them first owning either a working knowledge of this twenty-page periodical’s central cast or a basic grasp of “the events of Dark Nights: Metal”. For whilst “Grenade Tour” undeniably supplies plenty of pulse-pounding panels packed full of urgent tension and only the sort of pace a frantic flight for survival can generate, its far from straightforward script contains little to no exposition as to what is actually happening, nor why the likes of Neon the Unknown and Firebrand are having to flee in the first place.
Admittedly, the Syracuse-born writer’s narrative does contain an early double splash summarisation of Colin Nomi’s origin story, and later it becomes relatively clear that the Bad Samaritan’s mysterious metal, which can apparently “detonate a second time” at any moment, is actually the “heavy isotope of iron” known as Nth metal. But none of this information arguably helps with a plot which sees the blind material manipulator teleport repeatedly from dimension to dimension in order to outrace Lord Onimarr Synn’s ferociously-fanged owl-minions and their female Twi’lek-lookalike “Lady Lamp”; “Manhawks! Hold the fool’s protector –! This shoat cannot keep the Nth metal isotope from me!”
Indeed, if anything this desperate dash from Red Hook, Brooklyn, to Penn City, then Vanity, Ivy Town, National City, Slaughter Swamp, and finally Blackhawk Island only muddles the various plot threads up even more, especially when Janet Fals’ accompanying dialogue concerning “whatever the hell the World Forge is”, is overshadowed by her sorcerous companion’s gobbledygook regarding his “other senses… [being] tuned to more planes of existence than most people’s”, Quench’s metal disrupting “our universe’s fundamental forces”, and another explosion which potentially “could puncture the membrane of reality like a water balloon.”
Happily, this magazine is blessed with some rather dynamically-drawn artwork by Cary Nord, whose storyboarding for Firebrand’s battle with Synn’s General Phade is undoubtedly the highlight of the publication. Clean-lined and well-animated, “the award-winning artist of comic books and graphic novels such as Daredevil, X-Men, and Conan The Barbarian” provides both plenty of gravitas to Nomi’s emotional loss at the death of his friends, Ascendant and the Viking Judge, as well as insurmountable rage in Fals’ furious assaults.
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