Printed “in the aftermath of Dark Knights: Metal” and apparently described by Steve Orlando “as Seven Samurai meets The Dark Tower”, this twenty-page “manhunt ranging from Thanagar to the deepest heart of the Dark Multiverse” most assuredly lived up to its title when it first saw print in June 2018, by spectacularly killing off two of the series’ central cast members at the end of the magazine. Indeed, it was probably hard for this periodical’s 28,028 strong audience to recall a more blood-thirsty opening for a brand new book as the “malevolent” Bad Samaritan first dissolves Viking Judge’s left arm, then partially lops off one of Ascendant’s feet, and finally incinerates the super-heroic pair (along with himself) by foolishly attempting to cut Firebrand’s heart out using Turid Goldenaxe’s double-bladed weapon.
Admittedly, such sense-shattering shenanigans do help make the GLAAD Media Award-nominee’s narrative for Issue One of “The Unexpected” an increasingly gripping read, especially when Alden Quench proves himself to be so formidable a villain that he conclusively bests Neon the Unknown, as well as the element-molder’s fellow super-powered team-members, one-on-one within the space of a handful of action-packed panels. But even so, the fact that the high-crowned hat wearing “citizen… who has walked between the multiverse raindrops” causes two such viciously savage murders at this comic’s conclusion proves substantially shocking, not least of all to Colin Nomi’s alter-ego, who despite his scarred blindness still realises that his friends are dead due to the fact he can “smell the burning flesh, the hair and hot metal… [but] I can’t hear them breathing… They’re dead… And I’m still here…”
Rather delightfully though, “Call Of The Unknown” doesn’t just simply focus upon this titanic tussle within the corridors and wards of a Veterans Affairs Hospital either, as the New Yorker’s script bravely attempts to start making good on his pre-publication promise to unify “the DCU” by “pulling together a lot of different stories… [and] picking up on the massive architecture of things like Final Crisis.” Such a huge task was never going to be achieved within the space of a single book, no matter how ably pencilled by Ryan Sook and Cary Nord, yet Orlando makes a seemingly suitable start by providing plenty of exposition and focus upon former dead paramedic Janet Fals, and her miraculous resurrection, courtesy of the Conflict Engine, as the fiery fist-fighter Firebrand.