One of the more interesting, stunning books to come out this year, “Unthinkable” has flown under the radar for the most part, but, if you didn’t read this series, you missed out on a very well-crafted story, breathtaking art, and a finale that’s satisfying and thought-provoking, much like the rest of the series. Mark Sable uses the post-9/11 world to his advantage and that incident as a jumping off point, an instigating event for the entire book.
After last issue’s revelation that Alan Ripley’s brother may not have died on September 11, 2001 as thought, it becomes a race to find Steven and stop the final stages of his plans to destabilize the world, kill millions, and, ultimately, leave the United States in a position of power, albeit one that has taken some losses of its own. Steven’s plan and approach is surprisingly sympathetic despite its monstrous implications. By crafting a sympathetic antagonist, Sable creates a stronger conflict since it’s not so easy to dismiss Steven when he’s making a certain amount of sense.
Where the story fails a little is that his brother presses ahead with complete certainty, which undercuts the more complex nature of the plot. Steven isn’t acting alone and has convinced many others that his plan is the right one, so Alan’s unwillingness to hear him out comes off as a bit forced, a necessary part of concluding the series with this issue.
The revelation of Steven’s complete plan is handled with expert precision. Too often the denouement in the concluding issue can feel hamfisted or forced, not adding up completely, but things are wrapped up nicely here as Steven and his group’s action that have led to the problems the Think Tank faced the past few issues are explained. The mirroring of the Think Tank in Steven’s group is a nice touch, too.
I cannot say enough good things about Julian Totino Tedesco as his art has been stunning, an energetic mix of scratchy line work and manic pop art. His art is realistic, but heavily stylized with an emphasis on specific panels than the movement from panel to panel. In the early pages of this issue, you can see how he handles the flashback explaining Steven’s survival on 9/11, including a fantastic splash of the plane hitting the Pentagon. Juan Manuel Tumburús’ colors are the perfect fit for Tedesco’s art, both garish and grounded. The use of explosive reds in the background of the page where the soldiers succumb to a deadly virus further highlights their plight, while Tedesco handles the actual event.
The conclusion of “Unthinkable” #5 leaves the door open for future stories in a chilling fashion. Hopefully, this isn’t the last we see of Mark Sable and Julian Totino Tedesco’s creation as this series has been surprising, fast-paced, inventive, and brilliantly executed. A smarter, more chilling version of “24.”