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Unnatural Order 4 - Cover Crop
Courtesy of Vault Comics

Comic Books

‘Unnatural Order’ #4 brings the first arc to a shocking end

Everything changes in the sci-fi/fantasy action-adventure.

When I first started covering Unnatural Order with issue #1, I assumed it would be a miniseries. But both the synopsis and the final page of Unnatural Order #4 make clear that this is just the end of the first story arc. And although I may be wrong, it kind of feels like the creative team of writer Christopher Yost and artist Val Rodrigues – with colorist Dearbhla Kelly and letterer Andworld Design – also originally planned on a shorter run. Because so much changes in this one issue, it takes the series in a completely different direction than what I was expecting from the first three issues.

I’m not sure that’s a complaint, as the big changes make Unnatural Order #4 the most interesting in the series. Although the first three issues were good – mainly due to the impressive art style from Rodrigues and Kelly – the story hadn’t completely enraptured me. Issue #2 was the standout, as it featured the compelling main villain, Iodoc, and explored the sci-fi origins of the high fantasy world. Unnatural Order #4 gets back to these origins, both of the transformed world as well as the origins of the main characters.

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Unnatural Order #4

Vault Comics

There’s a definite Wizard of Oz vibe as we discover who the band of heroes were before Iodoc transformed the modern world into an ancient fantasy. Accordingly, the character development is much better than in previous issues as we discover the similarities and much more the differences between who the characters are in each realm. Like Gunther – the axe-wielding barbarian – actually being a cowardly German butcher.

Rodrigues’ art continues to impress, especially in bringing the different elements of the modern as well as the ancient world to life. We get some very nice pages of the transformation happening that are fun to look at. Rodrigues also does well with both action sequences as well as slower, character moments. Kelly’s colors are very much an important part of the art style, creating the proper atmosphere on each page.

Unnatural Order #4

Vault Comics

Unnatural Order #4 is very much about upending our expectations and making us question everything that has come before. That starts with highlighting the main differences in the personalities of the characters in the real world compared to the fantasy realm. We even find that the evil Iodoc might not be the impressive villain that we originally thought. I’m not too happy with this change, as I found Iodoc more interesting in the previous issues. But, I’m glad that he showed up for more of this issue.

The biggest upheaval in expectations comes in the main theme of this issue – whether the heroes should defeat Iodoc and make him change everything back, or whether the world is better as a realm of high fantasy. Suddenly, the band of heroes splits between those who believe the modern world is real and should be reestablished and those who think the fantasy realm is actually reality.

Yost also makes us reader question what is truly the real or best world. This causes a bit of a disconnect, as the first three issues made fairly clear that the fantasy world is ruled by the evil Iodoc and filled with his evil monsters.

Unnatural Order #4

Vault Comics

There’s also a bit of a disconnect due to a major change in the origins and motivations of the main protagonist – the US soldier, John Murphy. But, it’s also this change that drives Murphy’s decisions and the biggest twist in Unnatural Order #4’s ending.

I guess it’s these changes or revelations – the ones that feel disconnected to what had been presented in the first three issues – that make me wonder if Yost and Rodrigues had to rewrite after finding out that Unnatural Order would continue past a first arc. Hopefully, I’m wrong and this was the plan from the beginning. In any case, most of the changes make for a more compelling story. So, I guess it’s all for the better.

And if you’re wondering why the first arc would end after just four issues, don’t forget that each issue has had up to 40 pages of story each. That makes for a good-sized first volume at a fairly good price.

In conclusion, Unnatural Order #4 ends the first story arc by completely usurping expectations, taking the sci-fi/fantasy action-adventure in a new direction. This causes a bit of disconnect from the first three issues, but also creates a more interesting narrative. The split between modern times and the high fantasy world gives more opportunity for better character development and an exploration of Unnatural Order’s origins. It also allows the art to impress in many ways.

Unnatural Order 4 - Cover Crop
‘Unnatural Order’ #4 brings the first arc to a shocking end
Unnatural Order #4
'Unnatural Order' #4 ends the first story arc by completely usurping expectations, taking the sci-fi/fantasy action-adventure in a new direction. This causes a bit of disconnect from the first three issues, but also creates a more interesting narrative.
Reader Rating1 Votes
8.4
I still love the art style.
Better character development.
Interesting changes to the narrative.
Large page count.
Changes cause a disconnect to the previous issues.
Main villain less compelling in this issue.
8
Good
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