Doc Unknown serves up a healthy dose of science fiction and the supernatural, mixed with pulpy vigilantism. It has a classic comic feel that would appease any fan of the original Batman: The Animated Series as it acts like homage in many ways; the thick line work, the punchy dialog and the simplistic, yet believable character designs. I don’t know why goons are always posted on the roof of the place they’re knocking over, but that’s the way it is as two sets of mobsters with guns stand on top of the museum roof. Doc Unknown swoops in and begins silently taking the men out with a little assistance from the lightning storm hitting the city. Inside we find a guy that resembles Killer Croc, but he’s dressed all in white and is actually one of the top mob bosses in the city. Doc Unknown gasses the room as he jumps down and makes quick work of the remaining goons. We never do learn our Croc looking villain’s name, but Unknown goes up against him only to receive a wicked upper cut to the chin. He boasts that Doc Unknown didn’t know he was once the Heavy weight champ of Gate City, but after the Doc delivers a kick to lizard faces gut he walks him through everything he knows about him… which is his entire life story.
Lizard face manages to get his hands on what he came there for, which is a magical statue. He brings a mummy to life and suddenly the Doc hears the voice of someone else, but he can’t see him. The voice tells him to run, but the mummy gets him. After Lizard face brings a T-Rex back to life, the ghostly voice tells him to break the statue to stop everything and the Doc obliges.
While the story is a pretty straight forward beat’em up, it actually introduces several layers of the world all at once. The genres I mentioned in the beginning are all present and play wonderfully with and off of each other. I don’t know a damn thing about Doc Unknown’s backstory and I didn’t need it. Very often, new series have this obsession of explaining their world/concept/main character to the point that it’s a terribly boring. Doc Unknown drops you in and gives the information you need to get through the issue and plants the seed for the world to be explored. The writing was well-plotted and the pacing fit the action just right. The world seems very tragic and the few characters introduced definitely fit the bill and gave it a tone similar to Batman: TAS.
The art is very dynamic and full of pulpy action. The world is full of suits and fedoras, but it doesn’t have a dated look to it. The style and coloring is very modern and again helped with the tone and feel of the story. Lizard face (Fabian updated me that his name is Boss Snake... not Lizard face) has a great look and while it’s a clear homage to Killer Croc, it’s actually much cooler. He’s snake like in his appearance and even though his frame is huge, he’s still wearing a suit making him look Kingpin-esc. The overall issue has a very cohesive look. It’s hard to describe, but the world doesn’t have any of those accidental drop-ins like someone on a cell phone or a car that’s a bit too modern. It has a visual baseline of what the world is and what to expect.
The name honestly almost kept me away from this series; it’s admittedly cheesy, but after you read the issue it works. I enjoyed the world and the mystery surrounding the main character and his unknown antagonists. Additionally, the quality of the series is very high giving it a step above some of the other creator-owned titles on Submit. It’s definitely worth checking out if you’re a fan of any of the genres or homages I’ve listed. Let’s be honest, if you’re reading comics you probably are.
Writer: Fabian Rangel Jr. Artist: Ryan Cody Letterer: Ed Brisson Publisher: Believe in Comics Price: $.99 Release Date: 5/15/13 Available on Submit