Unlikely Heroes may not be a name many are familiar with, but they are a studio with a skilled team producing high quality, enjoyable comics, as our review of the superhero series, Supers, will attest to. This week, hot on the heels of their recent, rousing Kickstarter success, we take a look at issue 1 of the UH team’s newest comic project, The Surgeon. Will this post-apocalyptic, sword-wielding physician be a surgical cut above the rest or will it be Dead upon arrival?
Publisher: Unlikely Heroes Studios
Writer: John Pence
Artist: Zachary Dolan (Pencils), Laurie Foster (Inks/Editor), Eve Orozco (Colors), Erek Foster (Letters)
Price: $5 on Kickstarter
Fifteens years after an (unnamed) catastrophe sent all the rich and powerful underground and destroyed society as we know it, the Surgeon follows Dr Jenny Hanover, formerly an Orthopedic Surgeon but now an aimless wanderer across the destroyed Landscape as she offers to put her skills to use; both medical and various other, in exchange for enough to keep her going. However, responding to a call for a doctor, this lonesome surgeon comes across as small settlement which appears to be largely untouched by the dangers of the world, as well as severely unprepared for them too. So now, Dr Hanover has agreed (somewhat unknowingly) to help this band of survivors remain that way. But when a dangerous gang show up, has this surgeon bitten off more than she can chew.
The Surgeon is an incredibly enjoyable comic as writer John Pence, crafts a fun, exciting and, ultimately engrossing story. Contain something of a Postman or Mad Max vibe, this issues feels very light hearted given it’s rather morbid setting which helps to enhance and maintain the fun element. Pence has produced a nice balanced issue with this first instalment, with it containing equal measures of action and humour. In fact, the humour feels nicely subtle throughout and not too over the top, while the action seems quite reserved until it’s finally unleashed at the height of the third act. Meanwhile, the characters of this story are top notch, most notably the Surgeon herself who, while cantankerous, still emanates as a sympathetic and likable character. The rest of the cast, while not as fully fleshed out, provide a nice range of personalities for the Surgeon to bounce off of, from the earnest Abner to the ridiculously over the top Smithy. None of these characters feeling at all morbid or downbeat, helping to keep the story with that light hearted tone.
As for the art, the entire artistic team goes all in here with some truly gorgeous panels which could be consider professional at a big 2 level. Starting with the first three pages which are incredibly polished and make you gaze in awe, Zachary Dolan once again follows up his great Supers work with a terrific style which depicts this story perfectly. This is notable during the Surgeon’s arrival which shows off Dolan’s fantastic shadow work, as well as the Hero shot on the final page, although both are just two examples of many. Then, of course there is the colouring, which is just mesmerising with a grounded but colourful pallette but goes all out in certain panels, such as the depiction of lightning early on and the drinking scenes, where the colours are wacky and help keep that sense of fun. Of course, one truly standout moment comes during the party scenes, where the lettering is partially covered by musical notes, giving the impression everyone knows of not being able to hear someone against loud music. Whoever thought of this, and whichever member of the art team who implemented this, should be applauded.
With The Surgeon, Unlikely Heroes creative team has produced post-apocalyptic gold in comic book form. With a fun, light-hearted tale combined with some highly stylised artwork, John Pence, Zachary Dolan and the rest of the team offer a comic which focuses on the a lighter side of the end of the world and make it work perfectly. If you are fan of The Walking Dead but are tired of it’s depressing viewpoint, this may well be the book for you.