The mysterious, imaginative, and fascinating world-building of "Undiscovered Country"

Writers: Scott Snyder & Charles Soule, Artist/Cover: Giuseppe Camuncoli, Inker: Daniele Orlandini, Colorist: Matt Wilson, Letterer: Crank!

"Undiscovered Country #3" cover by Giuseppe Camuncoli

Picking the cover of Undiscovered Country #3 as the POP Cover Of The Week involved enough research to interest me in giving the series a read. Adding to my interest was the fact that even as issue #1 was going to press, it was announced that there is a bidding war over the title for tv/movie development. Issue #1 alone convinced me why: in the near future, a group of scientists is seeking a cure for a global pandemic that threatens to wipe out human life within six months. They receive a transmission that says “We have a cure; come get it” from a country that mysteriously and suddenly walled itself off from the rest of the world and went into complete silence three decades ago…the United States of America.

The title gets its origin from Shakespeare’s Hamlet, who described death as “an undiscovered country from whose bourn no traveler returns.” The former United States in Undiscovered Country is portrayed as a very dangerous place to explore, and a death trap. In what seems to be a very short time, the U.S. has become unrecognizable, reshaped into “an alien land, divided into different zones, each a distinct biome with flora and fauna completely independent of eco-logic…new creatures, new social structures, even new landmasses...”

A captive genius reveals what America has become, and the layout of the "game" scientists must travel to get to the cure

Widescreen scenes in the first issues are a mashup: the weird racing vehicles from Mad Max, the mutated creatures from The Island of Dr. Moreau, and the subterranean society of Beneath the Planet Of The Apes. Undiscovered Country is highly imaginative and entertaining.

The remains of “civilized” former Americans are holed up in a massive former gypsum nine in the American southwest. The fortress doubles as a vault preserving all types of artifacts and Americana from the savages and warlords that have taken over the entire continent. It’s fascinating to pick out all the objects stored there.

the final page reveals a theory that is a very timey-wimey, sci-fi twist to the story

The first two issues were fast-moving and action-packed, but issue 3 takes place in the fortress and is mostly talk and exposition, setting up a glorified video game/scavenger hunt the scientists must play in return for the promised cure.

Writers Scott Snyder and Charles Soule have spent a lot of hours world-building, filling their former America with interesting characters, and concepts inspired by current politics, most notably isolationism.

Giuseppe Camuncoli (Avengers, The Amazing Spider-Man) packs panels with an impressively glorious amount of detail, making this world come alive. Thankfully, he has toned down the facial expressions on his characters, which became increasingly rugged and gruesome during his Amazing Spider-Man run.

I highly recommend Undiscovered Country to your pull list.

Undiscovered Country #3 from Image Comics is available January 15, 2020.

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