The gang travel through Unity, a new, high-tech drenched area of this new America, that sees some familiar faces returning and a good deal of exposition in favour of action. A modern day ‘Wizard of Oz’ for contemporary comic book readers looking for something different from their usual pull list.
In Undiscovered Country #8 we learn that time works very differently in this new America. The 13 different zones the make up this brave new world all run on very different rates of time. It certainly explains why this newest zone, Unity, looks like what the USA would look like if Silicon Valley and Amazon were given unlimited authority for town and city planning. An expanse of land totally taken over by high-tech and able to build whatever you need almost immediately. This is a future Jeff Bezos dreams about, I imagine; a world in which everything is plugged into a giant mainframe and adapts to the needs of its users.
It’s all explained in great detail by the latest rendition of Uncle Sam – aka Doctor Sam Elgin – they’ve come across. And across a good part of the issue too, in an effort to establish this new zone quickly in the readers minds, I imagine.
I do wonder whether we’ll be getting further zone-appropriate versions of Uncle Sam as guide. Or, is this Sam merely a creation of the tech that runs through Unity so completely? Could he a modern day Virgil guiding the gang through Hell, Purgatory and, who knows, Heaven? Maybe from the evidence of this issue, he’s more of the latter. A ghost in the machine, but a very handy one to have. But, as we are discovering, everything and anything is possible in this future dystopia.
Going from zone to zone makes this whole surreal adventure feel like a very contemporary take on the Wizard of Oz, with more equally bizarre but memorable characters introduced each and every issue. It’s certainly an impressive cast of characters writers Charles Soule and Scott Snyder are building. Artist Giuseppe Camuncoli’s designs give the two zones we’ve travelled through thus far very distinctly and different looks and breathes life into them. The cooler, cold colours of Unity contrast with the warmer desert hues of the opening to this series and by giving each zone it’s own distance colour scheme reminds me even further of Frank L Baum’s children’s classic with its Yellow Brick Road and Emerald City.
Of course, we have enough experience of this America already to know that when something looks so prefect, it really, really isn’t. But, that’s a revelation for another issue. This one was all about informing the audience and setting up the next set of pieces in this unfolding, entertaining and all-American modern fable. This issue was all about establishing the setting, characters and peeling an extra layer off some the mysteries surrounding this whole engaging saga. Maybe next issue it’ll be more action and less talk? Judging by the last revelatory page, I can’t see. how it cannot be.
Undiscovered Country #8 is out now from Image Comics.