What better final case for the world's greatest detective than one that involves science trying to crack metaphysical urban myths? The Unknown's first issue introduces a series that looks set to out-Fringe Fringe. Spoilers!
The Unknown is the latest series from Mark Waid, better known for his superhero books like Kingdom Come and The Flash, and while it may not feature people in tights doing impossible things, that doesn't mean that it's necessarily going to be any more down to Earth; by the end of the issue, we're already discovering technology that Walter Bishop wishes he could've invented.
But that's one of the problems about this first issue - it almost takes too long to get to the hook. Sure, there are enjoyable and necessary scenes on the way (I particularly like the hallucination/ghost haunting main character Catherine Allingham), setting up the characters and conflicts, but it takes us the entire issue to get to what feels like the point, and that reveal - the very last thing in the issue - suddenly makes everything that has happened before somewhat... less important, perhaps, or less interesting. Sure, it guarantees that you're going to pick up the next issue, but there's also a frustration at not having gotten to that point earlier.
(This also makes it harder to write about, without ruining the story. Suffice to say that the reveal sets up what, according to interviews with Waid, is the real thrust of the series. The last page is worth it, though.)
That said, even with the frustration - which won't feel nearly so acute in the inevitable collected edition - there's a lot to recommend this issue, not least of all Waid's snarky dialogue (Allingham's disdain for those around her convinces you of her intelligence as much as anything else) and wonderfully atmospheric art by Minck Oosterveer. It may not be a perfect beginning, but it's intriguing, and sometimes, that's nearly as good.
The Unknown #1 is available now.