All we have to do is hold out. If we can hold out… all of us… maybe we can make it through.
Now that we’re starting to flesh out characters who aren’t the two siblings taking up the majority of the page count, it feels like there’s a proper vision and direction for Undiscovered Country. This issue focuses on Pavel Bukowski, a former military officer who it is revealed had a very traumatic past during his military service. Snyder and Soule do a great job showing just how broken this man was by his experience — there are bits of his story that are genuinely horrifying and gruesome, and the trauma of his past is evident in every decision he makes in the present. The side cast is really starting to take a center stage, reminding us that this isn’t a book about Charlotte and Daniel — it’s about the entire group and their various paths leading into and out of America. It’s really making the book a lot more enjoyable to read, as there’s suddenly a reason to care about all of the characters themselves, which makes up for a lot of the sparse world-building we’ve gotten up to this point.
Listen to me. I have a plan. You have to trust me.
The other half of the story goes back to Lottie and Daniel. This is the slow burn story of the book so far, and it continues to burn slowly. We’re getting an actual explanation for Daniel’s actions now, though, which teases a larger backstory that will definitely come into play as the story progresses. At the same time, this is definitely the least interesting backstory portion of the book so far. Lottie and Daniel’s ties to Sam Elgin and what happened to America is a really compelling connection on paper, but has not landed well at all over the past five issues. I can see the seeds of what’s intended but it’s just not really working, and that makes for a frustrating read.
Who said anything about walking?
Now, I feel very safe in saying this after five issues: the world that Snyder and Soule have built is the strongest part of this book. A major part of it is Giuseppe Camuncoli’s fantastic artwork and designs, which create this alien landscape that makes the world feel ripe for exploration. I still have reservations about the core of this book’s message as it relates to the modern political landscape, but on its own it is at the very least an interesting and fun world. Snyder’s love of history is evident throughout his work, and once again he’s using that love of history to create the world of this book. The Golden Spike is a clear example of this, as is The Shuttle and so many other concepts throughout the book. But there’s also a strong influence of more alien types of concepts — the Stars and Stripe is one of the most bizarre things I’ve ever seen in a comic book, and I genuinely can’t tell if I think it’s great or not.
I’m getting into this book now, which is always a good feeling. I’m very curious how this arc will read all at once rather than in monthly pieces, but it’s really come together this issue. I’m really excited to see the “first true zone” of the world that’s been built — it looks like the book will really get started there.