Short Cuts 54: Undiscovered Country Vol. 2 – Unity; Friend of the Devil – A Reckless Book; Nailbiter Vol. 8 – Nailbiter Returns

Undiscovered Country Vol. 2: Unity
Scott Snyder & Charles Soule, writers; Giuseppe Camuncoli, layouts; Leonardo Marcello Grassi, finishes; Matt Wilson, colors; Crank!, lettering.
Image Comics, 2021

Having escaped the Destiny Man the group begins their journey “walking the spiral” through the thirteen zones in what was once the United States of America. The zone they escaped from was Destiny; now they have arrived in Unity. The character calling himself Uncle Sam–who had apparently died violently in the previous installment–tells them that each of the zones is unique, a land unto itself. Unity is clearly a remarkable place, organized around high technology and artificial intelligence. Flashbacks fill in details of how it was conceived, along with the other zones. The separate zones seem to have been the result of a failure to agree on a common purpose–kind of a reenactment of states rights  versus federalism. The more the group learns about the founding of Unity, the darker it becomes. The arc concludes with an epic confrontation between Destiny and Unity, as the group escapes to the zone of Possibility. Lots of crazy ideas (and visuals) again characterize the series. It occurs to me that if the storytelling pace continues at this rate, there will be at least eleven more volumes! I don’t doubt that the creative team could pull that off, but it seems highly unlikely in the current economic climate. This collection includes a a detailed timeline of “After The Sealing,” as well as a collection of concept drawings by Camuncoli and alternate monthly covers.

Friend of the Devil: A Reckless Book
Ed Brubaker, writer; Sean Phillips, artist; Jacob Phillips, colors
Image Comics, 2021

Ethan Reckless finds his way into the central mystery here by accident. After solving a case with the help of a librarian named Linh the two begin an affair. Then while watching one of his old films in the movie theater he calls home she spots her little sister Maggie in the background–Maggie had disappeared eight years earlier after heading to Hollywood to pursue an acting career. Ethan gets his hands on the police report about her missing person case and consults a film expert he knows about the movie’s production details. He heads to Hollywood and starts following the leads, and the news goes from bad to worse. A cult called the Church of the Fallen appears to have been involved: people with a connection to them tend to turn up dead. Ethan finds his way to the cult leader–who has adopted a new identity, but is no less dangerous–and finds the answers he has been seeking. It is a bittersweet conclusion, because while it gives Linh closure, it also ends their relationship. Another powerful entry in this series of original graphic novels. Looking forward to the next one!

Nailbiter Vol. 8: Nailbiter Returns
Joshua Williamson, story; Mike Henderson, art; Adam Guzowski, colors; John J. Hill, letters & book design
Image Comic, 2021

The conclusion of the latest chapter in the Nailbiter saga begins with the titular return. Sheriff Crane and Agent Finch must return to the destroyed Buckaroo to track down the cause of the spate of Buckaroo Butchers copycat killings. It begins with a flashback to a serial killer game that Warren and  his wife Shannon  created in high school, which foreshadows the current situation (including introducing a female rival for Warren’s affections). Shortly after arriving in town the whole entourage starts experiencing vivid hallucinations. This nearly screams “they’ve been drugged,” which turns out to be the case. But who drugged them, and why? It all goes back to high school–a recurring trope here–which seems too small for such weighty matters. But it all ties into the deep history of Buckaroo, and their old high school friend Penny. Penny is convinced that that humanity is full of corrupt souls, and the drug she used in the Buckaroo woods would be a revelation if used on the entire population of Portland. Preventing that becomes the goal. The story ends with Warren trying to stay out of the public eye…until his son shows up, saying “Mom said if anything happened to her to come here.” The last page says “To Be Continued,” so apparently the story of Buckaroo is not over.


About marksullivan5

Freelance Journalist & Musician; Senior Contributor, All About; writing on comics at & No Flying, No
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