Comics Features

REVIEW: The Unseen #1

Part graphic novel, part prose, and part something else entirely, The Unseen is best described as being hard to put into words. And that isn’t meant as a criticism, but rather as a compliment. Creator Bryan Revell committed suicide, and before being recuccitated, he experienced visions of Heaven and Hell, and of the world ending. This series depicts those visions.

Set in 2019, the story follows the end of the world as we know it, told from the perspectives of various human characters alongside supernatural beings. Most of the chapters focus on one particular character, with the name of that character also being the name of the chapter. For instance, the chapter “Donnie” focuses on the titular young man who has been committed to an institution after being plagued by nightmares, despite the fact that he possesses “special abilities”. Another focuses on Gauge, a man imprisoned but remaining thankful to God for the beautiful sunset that he witnesses from his cell.

Even the supernatural characters are made to seem like real people, such as the guardian angel Acheron, who feels “anger, hate, rage and love”, and is incredibly frustrated by the fact that he cannot intervene in matters. He may not technically be human, but he sure as hell feels it. Although it remains to be seen how each of these stories will intertwine, the seeds for a very interesting ensemble piece have clearly been sewn.

And thankfully, unlike so many other works of fiction, the series does not see the world in black and white terms. Here nobody is simply good or evil, and nothing is as it seems. Gauge’s cellmate, for example, is described as being someone who wants to live a good life, but “was born into the world with no one to show him right from wrong. Only evil and pain had he known his whole life”, forcing him down the wrong path no matter how hard he tries to avoid it. Instead of simply categorising people as heroes or villains, The Unseen instead boldly delves into the deeper sociological issues of how people come to be as they are.

The artwork is unique to say the least. Again, it’s not easy to describe, because we get something new each time. At some points, we have beautifully painted visions of heaven that could easily belong in a National Gallery; then, we also have more traditional comic book artwork depicting the superhero style angels, and even neon images of cityscapes. Revell is clearly an artist of many talents as instead of sticking to one particular style, he diversifies as much as possible, which something many other artists only dream of doing. Even the pages with no illustrations are designed to resemble ancient pieces of parchment, as every individual aspect is folded into something new and unique.

The Unseen is best described as a passion project from a creator who has a story that needs to be told. As he comes from Hawaii, a good way to end this review would be by saying much mahalo for this series, Bryan Revell.

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Have you checked out The Unseen yet? What did you think about it? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter!

About the author

Davidde Gelmini