Is a nightmare just a dream gone wrong, or does the cause lie somewhere else? What if you wake up in a padded cell and then slip into endless nightmares day after day? Nightmares that don't make sense. Nightmares that have you dying day in and day out. How do you get out of the cycle and try to make sense of what is going on? How do you stop yourself from going insane? Wait a minute… what if you are already insane?
Matthias Wolf's first effort at a graphic novel, titled Unbeatable, starts off really well. It shows a young man in pain, waking up in a padded cell with no memories of what has transpired. Before he realizes it, he is launched into dream after dream where all he does is fight the most famous warriors in history with a predictable outcome — his death at their hands.
The book is slick — well crafted images, great start with the plot unwinding slowly at times but with large leaps and bounds at other times. The character remembers growing up in a small town, his first crush, his mild mannered father who guides him along the various pitfalls of life that only a high schooler can experience, when things seem to go wrong in seemingly small ways.
His father, the epitome of non-violence, breaks loose and unleashes his fury and is then immediately paid a visit by a mysterious person whom he recognizes, but our protagonist has never seen before. A "creature" is helped in his escape from a highly secure facility who then rampages across the countryside and finds our hero's girlfriend as a victim after he has been knocked unconscious. To top it all, he wakes up in a padded cell with no memories and gruesome battles and deaths to follow.
The storytelling and art are great, with styles reminiscent of manga artwork – somewhat comic, yet deadly serious. The coloring is fantastic, invoking exactly the kind of mood and feelings that the author intended.
The only problem I had was when the plot unwinds towards the end – it seems too sudden and too convenient. While there are no doubts in the reader's mind as to what has been happening, perhaps a couple of more pages and panels could have been dedicated to explaining the concept in a more careful manner.
All said and done, Unbeatable is a great first effort and if there is a sequel (or even other titles from the same group) then I shall definitely like to get my hands on it.