Over the years I’ve read a lot of superhero comics written by Mark Waid, and I’ve found his work to be consistently entertaining. I don’t think I’ve ever encountered anything by him that’s like this graphic novel, though. The protagonist of THE UNKNOWN is Catherine (Cat) Allingham, a beautiful young woman who happens to be the world’s greatest private detective. She can solve a difficult case just by glancing around, and she doesn’t even have to be at a crime scene to figure out what happened. But there’s one particular mystery that’s she determined to solve.
She has an aggressive brain tumor and less than six months to live, so she wants to find scientific proof of an afterlife.
Plagued by hallucinations caused by her tumor, she takes on an assistant, a massive former bar bouncer named Doyle who happens to be a pretty smart guy himself, though not on Cat’s level. Together they wind up in a dangerous chase across Europe as they try to recover a stolen scientific device that may prove vital to Cat’s quest. However, this search leads them to places they may not want to go.
This is great stuff, poignant and intelligent and sharply written, and the art by Minck Oosterveer seems to me to have a definite Will Eisner influence. I hope there are more of these, because I want to find out what happens to Cat and Doyle next. If you’re a fan of offbeat, occult detective yarns, I recommend THE UNKNOWN.