Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Written by Matthias Wolf
Drawn by Carlos Gomez
Published by Razor Wolf Entertainment

Heimen Dale Jr.’s existence has gone… astray. He’s awakened to find himself in an insane asylum, with no clue how he got there or why he’s now incarcerated. All he has are his early memories and his dreams. The memories are of he and his father, and how he taught him to quietly learn how to stand up for himself, and of the girl next door, Denise, that he fell in love with and married. Seemingly a pretty standard existence. But his dreams… those are something else entirely. His dreams are filled with one brutal, bloody fight after another, as he’s continually murdered in battle with some of history’s greatest warriors. Now he must begin to piece together exactly what has happened to him, before he completely loses his sanity and the ability to withstand the pain he feels upon waking up from those fights. And what he’s about to learn will be unlike anything he could have imagined. Ever.

Debut graphic novels can be a tricky thing; writers often struggle with story structure, pace, and dialogue, and artists are usually pretty green as far as storytelling capability. But UNBEATABLE manages to defy those problems- Wolf’s script is strong, he juggles multiple pieces of the story with grace, and the characters are genuinely interesting on the page. He also does an excellent job of offering up solid clues as to what’s really happening without slapping a huge neon sign on the page that says “Clue Here.” Going back through the book, he actually makes the book’s final revelation fairly obvious, but it certainly wasn’t upon first read.

Gomez also turns in strong work, shifting back and forth seamlessly between the various milieus Wolf places the character, and showing an adept ability for portraying action. He also does well with characters and faces, which makes it easier to dive fully into the story.

I think the highest complement I can pay UNBEATABLE is this: lacking space, I rarely find myself keeping a lot of debut graphic novels from small publishers. They don’t turn me on enough to merit a spot in the collection, instead getting donated to friends, schools, you name it. But UNBEATABLE is a keeper, earning a permanent place of honor on the bookcase.


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