Book Review: Doc Unknown Vol. 1

I’ve almost always found value in savoring good experiences. As Emmanuel Levinas, Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., and countless others have expressed more thoroughly and more eloquently than I ever could, it’s these small instances of sensory enjoyment that feed and sustain us as we move through life. The need for something to look forward to is the sole reason it took me three weeks to finish reading Fabian Rangel Jr. & Ryan Cody’s Doc Unknown Vol. 1: The Secret of Gate City.

April was just shy of being completely soul sucking for me. There was some bad news, and just a bunch of weird, petty stuff happened and continued to happen. I needed a palate-cleanser for my life—something that would help restore my faith in right and wrong and remind me of the amazing things people can be capable of. Enter Doc Unknown. And after a week of white knuckling it, I turned to the first page and could not help but smile.

Doc Unknown is comics at its best. It’s noir. It’s conspiracy theories. It’s mysticism. It’s gangsters and martial arts. It’s a great story with compelling characters portrayed in a bold, cohesive style. And, it accomplishes all of this while being totally independent.

Generally at this point in the review, I’d write about representation. So here it is: Absolutely do not rule this book out because of the way the protagonist looks. Doc Unknown is special because it does what so few books do successfully—it suspends all belief. Rangel Jr. and Cody have crafted a world that entices the reader into to rolling with the fantastic, and the payoff is enormous.

Doc Unknown is special—the first panel of the first issue makes that apparent. I purposely put off reading the last issue in this volume so that I would have it when I truly needed it. And now that I’m done? Now that it looks like things in my life are beginning to turn around? Well, now I have Doc Unknown Vol. 2: Winter of the Damned and Other Tales and Boss Snake: Cold Blood, Cold Streets to enjoy.


Bottom line: Do you like good things, want to support independent comics, and have $4? Doc Unknown Vol. 1: The Secret of Gate City could be yours right now.


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e lewis

I'm a bibliophile with a love of social justice theory living in the Pacific North West trying to figure life out.

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