Let’s face it, we huddled comic book masses are a jaded and derisive lot. I blame the medium. Nothing operating under such an episodic nature can truly sustain every element of itself creatively or uniquely over time, even one that deals so regularly in the realm of the imaginative, like comics. So many things get repeated ad nauseam in this industry, it’s sometimes hard not to concede the point to Shia LaBoogie that there is no such thing as “The New,” but rather varying degrees of appropriation. One of the most baffling and annoying, yet simplest examples of this inherent redundancy is the word “uncanny.”
The meaning of uncanny is multifaceted, but it is essentially used to describe something that is at once familiar yet strange, like when someone points out the “uncanny resemblance” between you and a celebrity or, say, Jesus Christ and an oddly-shaped pork rind. It’s a great word, but just like a mid-90s No Doubt song, that shit has been played the fuck out, and has suffered, like the word “literally,” a most ironic twist of fate in that it has itself become decidedly un-uncanny: more familiar than anything else.
While I hate to admit to being affected by something based so ingloriously on lexicographic trivialities, that one overused word is one of the reasons I never really got into Andy Diggle’s book of the same name. I have recently come to find out, however, that I shouldn’t have been so quick to discount Dynamite Comics’ Uncanny as completely being hackneyed fiddle-faddle. Despite using the most annoyingly ubiquitous adjective in comics to describe a story, which itself seems all too “oddly familiar,” Uncanny is still quite simply good, fun comic booking, and I’m glad I came back to its story.
The book thus far has seen global adventurer, ardent con man and tactile human ability leech, “Dominic Weaver” (not his real name), supposedly saved from a grim fate in Singapore by a one Maggie Ford. Herself a badass possessor of superhuman traits (most notably, a healing factor), she has been hired by Deacon Styles - aka, the coolest-named son of a bitch this side of Keyser fucking Soze - to bring Weaver in to help bring down a clandestine illuminati-style organization called The Cadre, the members of whom have weaponized superpowers like Weaver’s and plan on selling them to the highest bidder.
Issue six is what should be the culmination of that mission. Kindapped by The Cadre after a failed attempt to capture one of its directors, and trapped at a cleverly-disguised “Tropical Disease Research Facility” in Belize, Maggie and Weaver are set upon not only by the security of the compound, but by a mind-manipulating invader, who, while associated with the two, seems to now have their own harm on his mind, pun intended.
Luckily, Weaver - in between being forced to use his abilities so that The Cadre can presumably study and recreate them - befriends an unexpected ally, who uses his own shocking powers to set the three on the run again, this time seemingly from everybody.
Like I said earlier, Uncanny, neither in name nor concept, really brings anything new to the table ... but it also kinda doesn’t matter. This is really just chicks and dudes with superpowers trying to beat the snot out of one another in order to rule the world. I mean, what more do you want in a comic book?
Okay, for serious, it is more than that. Sure, it’s basically a team-up between Wolverine, Professor X, Storm and Rogue analogues, but in this issue-long prison break, Diggle is once again at his level best in crafting his usual global espionage-dipped world of sultry, superpowered spy games. As such, there are a couple of intriguing twists this time (both of them familial, interestingly) and we get a metric butt-load of action, especially in the entertainingly sick, calculated and joyfully murderous actions of the telepath. Great stuff.
The art from Aaron Campbell is also quite good, but whenever I see an overabundance of shading - as is the case here - I get the feeling it’s trying to make up for the art’s shortcomings. What confuses me is that the art not drowning in shadows looks pretty great, so I’m not sure why Campbell’s work has to be forced into such “filler” tricks, rather than just allowing his art to have the breathing room it deserves.
I read all six issues of Uncanny in rapid-fire succession, surprising myself in the process; not because I’m not a big fan of Diggle’s (which I am), but because this concept and its chosen nomenclature were so tired. If you, like me, have been holding out on this series, I suggest you pick it up or at very least snag the trade. It’ll feel familiar enough to be comfortable yet in a different enough context so as to impress; or, in a word, it’s uncanny ... for all the feelings that word inspires.
Writer: Andy Diggle Artist: Aaron Campbell Colorist: Bill Crabtree Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment Price: $3.99 Release Date: 2/12/14