Indie Comics Review: THE UNBELIEVABLE UNTEENS #4
[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Writer: Jeff Lemire
Artist: Tyler Crook
Colours: Tyler Crook
Letters: Tyler Crook
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Reviewed By: Derek McNeil
The Unbelievable Unteens #4: Unbelievable Unteens comic book artist Jane Ito finds her world turned upside down after discovering her comic book creations were real and she was one of them. As she and the Unteens reunite and put the pieces together they take on the forces that disbanded them for one final fight.
Last issue, we witnessed the reunion of the Unbelievable Unteens. However, this reunion was short-lived, as the former teammates went their separate ways again. In The Unbelievable Unteens #4, we see Jack Sabbath about to enter the gates of Hell on his own to save Snapdragon from the White Wraith.
Jack is met at the gates of Hell by the Horseless Rider. I find this character of Lemire’s to be particularly fascinating. At first, I took him to be a pastiche of the Spectre, but I am getting strong vibes of the Phantom Stranger from him in this appearance. In any case, he is clearly a major player in the supernatural realm of the Black Hammer universe. I hope that Lemire features him in his own Black Hammer title at some point.
Meanwhile, back in the mundane world, we see Strobe having doubts about not going with Jack. She is visited by Straka, who has been having the same misgivings. Straka has the most reason to not join the effort to save Snapdragon. He has a wife and children. But it was his wife that convinced him of his obligation to help his teammates.
So, they return to the care home where Kid Boom has been tending to Snapdragon’s comatose body. Finally, even Carlos is convinced to join with his old teammates and suddenly they find themselves in Hell with Jack. It’s unclear how they managed to get there. Did Snapdragon subconsciously bring them there? Did the Horseless Rider act to transport them? What matters is that the group now faces the White Wraith together, with Jack giving their battle cry, “Unteens Unite!”.
Acting as a team again, the heroes prove more than a match for the demon. This adds a bit more tragedy to Snapdragon’s situation. If the demon could have been so easily overcome by the group, she could have been spared years of torment if they had attempted to save her when she first fell into the White Wraith’s clutches.
In the aftermath of the battle, we can see how Lemire’s story differs from the standard superhero stories that he draws inspiration from. In a typical story, Snapdragon would wake from her coma, and the team would remain together as an active superhero team. However, Snapdragon opts to let go of her hold on life, so that she can remain with Jack in death. And Straka returns to his family. But there is a hint that there may be a romance blooming between Strobe and Kid Boom.
So, the ending is somewhat bittersweet, but it wraps up all the loose ends. This was more of a last hurrah for the team rather than a grand reformation. Which is somewhat more realistic than most superhero books. The former teens have grown up now and aren’t the same people they were when they were the Unteens. They have resolved their differences, but they don’t try to reforge their team.
However, I expect that they might reunite again if a threat arose that required their intervention. They may not be a team anymore, but that doesn’t preclude them from coming together for one-off adventures when the need arises. I don’t think we’ve seen the last of the Unteens.
Tyler Crook’s artwork on this series has also been amazing. The flashback sequences presented as pages from an old comic were beautifully illustrated. And the artistic style and colors capture the perfect mood for the present-day sequences.
I tend to have high expectations, and Lemire’s Black Hammer titles have never disappointed me. And The Unbelievable Unteens is no exception. I have no complaints at all.
Lemire’s universe allows for a wide variety of titles and The Unbelievable Unteens makes a delightful addition to the Black Hammer family. I look forward to seeing what Lemire has planned for his next Black Hammer project.