Undiscovered Country, Vol. 1: Destiny by Scott Snyder
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
This is one weird little comic. I finished it, but I think there's some major problems with it. There's a two-page explanation in the back of how the two writers got together and came up with the concept. As far as I can tell, they got carried away with their *BIG IDEA* and forgot to work out the details of that Big Idea....and as we all know, the devil is in the details.
The original concept is fairly promising though. Thirty years ago, the US abruptly shut their borders and withdrew from international affairs, going completely isolationist. (And when I start thinking about that, the problems began popping up right away....like, how are they going to get the energy and oil supplies to do that? Not to mention that just about everything nowadays--clothes, computers, phones, a helluva lot of pharmaceuticals, cars, and on and on and on--is being manufactured in China and Mexico?) There's even a total communications/internet blackout (huh??? like that's ever going to happen. I can immediately think of two companies that would never allow such a thing: Disney!! and Amazon!!), so for the past three decades, the country has fallen into a sort of "black hole." (Aaaaand, pray tell, what happened to Alaska and Hawaii, and the US protectorates: Puerto Rico, Guam, and the US Virgin Islands, among others?) Outside the borders (so, y'know, what'd they do, build the Great Mexican-Canadian Wall? Yeah, apparently so...there's a timeline for what's known as the Sealing at the end of the book. One hopes this wall is a little sturdier than the one Trump tried to build), the world is being plagued by the Sky Virus, which has greater than an 80 percent kill rate and is spreading rapidly. Then, out of nowhere, the US reaches out...and offers the rest of the world a cure. (And if they were truly as cut off and isolationist as advertised, with no air or other travel in or out, how would they even get samples of the virus?)
(I think I'm talking myself out of that second star.)
A team is invited in to meet with US leaders and negotiate for the cure, and of course everything goes south. Because inside the country is a crazy bananapants sort-of society that doesn't make a lick of sense, which involves (apparently) genetic engineering--the bad guys ride huge fishes across the desert instead of horses, and their leader, the Destiny Man's, mount is a talking carnivorous bison!--"gravitational lensing" that makes plants grow really really fast, some sort of post-apocalyptic dystopia, an (old, retired) space shuttle held aloft by two blimps, and an antagonist that spouts the worst of conservative/libertarian cliches (in black and white inks to boot).
I realize this is a comic book universe, and in those, sometimes
logical worldbuilding is in short supply. But this seems to be a worse
example than usual. The basic storyline of trying to get the cure for
the Sky Virus is not bad, and neither are the characters. The art, for
the most part, is interesting. But the more I thought about it after I
finished reading, the worse the worldbuilding became. There's also the
little matter of the characters, at the end, waxing rhapsodic about
rediscovering the American dream, and not acknowledging that this was
pretty much for white people only. (There is only one offhand reference
to slavery in the entire volume, and the Native American genocide is
seemingly forgotten.) I can't imagine the two writers spent so much time
on it, per their own admission, to turn out...this.
(Yeah, that second star is too high. But screw it, I've already downgraded it once, I'm not going to do it again.)
I'm glad the writers became such fast friends, and all that. But damn, they need some worldbuilding lessons.
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