Doc Unknown in The Museum of Madness (Comixology)


3.5 / 5 – Pulp action mixing monsters and magic

Comixology continues to offer an interesting mix of books from smaller publishers and here we have writer Fabian Rangel Jr. and art by Ryan Cody offering us Doc Unknown, protecting Gate City from strange criminals and monsters.  We also get an additional five page back-up story featuring an early collaboration between the creators as well as some pin-ups.  Bonus content is always encouraged but we shall turn our focus to the main story.

From the description provided, “Doc must prevent the monstrous mobster, Boss Snake from stealing an enchanted statue.  Things quickly go from bad to weird in this first installment of an exciting new pulp action adventure!”  The time is never directly set, but we have well-dressed mobsters with tommy guns and an absence of the most recent technology.  The story starts and ends with a shadowy cabal receiving a strange transmission and devising a plan to rid the city of Doc Unknown.

The style owes some debt to the type of universe reflected in Mike Mignola’s Hellboy, where there are magic and monsters interacting with regular people in modern times.  Boss Snake, unnamed in the comic book, is an oversized, green skinned man, more reminiscent of a lizard than a snake to my eyes.  I do like that the art is focused on the story telling, without use of splash pages and overly posed panel composition.  There is plenty of action as the museum heist is resolved and the comic ends on the obligatory cliff-hanger.

However, this type of story will leave many things unexplained and expect you to roll with the punches.  For example, Doc Unknown has a ghost who talks to him during the battle but we are given no explanation as to if this is a normal occurrence or some special power he has.  However, such details are not needed to enjoy the story.  The characters and the reader must go along to see where the story takes them.  If this storytelling device is not to your liking, I would avoid this.

The art style also is evocative of Mignola but likely will not resonate with most readers to the same degree.  The backgrounds are frequently sparse but the character designs work well.  The ending splash page works as a cliffhanger and I really appreciate the focus on storytelling.  If you like monsters and mobsters facing off against a traditional pulp hero, give this a shot.

Reviewed by: Andrew Sanford – Covering the full spectrum of comics culture

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