The Unknown: The Devil Made Flesh (#1 – 4) – Mark Waid

3 out of 5

The second volume of Unknown is much more focused than the first, and slightly less cleavage-flaunting, but it still feels somewhat muddled in terms of overall direction.  Writer Mark Waid seemingly gives in to the supernatural component of the book – detective Catherine, debunker of myths, seeks the truth regarding life after death so she can have some emotional resolution regarding her terminal tumor – but also wants to pretend like it’s a clue-laden spooky Sherlock series  (“Pretend” because the mysteries are just punchy splash-page red herrings until whatever withheld info is revealed); this creates a wonky juxtaposition where it feels like we waffle between potentially clever explanations and silly ones, which – in a more favorable review – we could interpret as Catherine’s struggled with the dementia caused by her tumor, but I more see it as Waid writing ten books at once and only having a vague idea of what he wanted to do with this one.

That being said, Devil does set up some intrigue (though only if you read the first arc) by jumping forward a year – when previously our heroine had only six months to live – and having our duo from the prior storyline, Catherine and associate detective James, for some reason not remember one another.  It’s a little disappointing that we seem to get routed off of this angle after only an issue, but the eventual explanation Waid drops is so bonkers it carries you through the aforementioned wayward focus.

Unknown is a book of just waaay too many concepts that it doesn’t want to commit to, and Devil Made Flesh essentially continues that trend.  However, it remains a little more on point for its four issues, and as-drawn-by-sweaty-palmed Minck Oosterveer, the large bosomed Catherine doesn’t seem to lose a button on her top every other panel this time, but this is definitely mid tier Waid, toying with idea scraps while bigger series brew.

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