One of the best surprises in a comic can be the one that you didn’t see coming. I feel like that’s the case with Brian Churilla’s “The Secret History of D.B. Cooper” #4, which lays out several surprises for the reader this month. The good thing, though, is that none of them feel so outlandish that you can’t swallow them.
“The Secret History of D.B. Cooper” #4 lays on the groundwork set in the previous issue; we get more information on why the real-world Cooper was starting to transform into a monster after being attacked in the psychic realm last issue and get more hints about Cooper’s peculiar split between the two universes. The part that stuck with me the most, though, involves Cooper’s relationship with the teddy bear Lee. I like that there’s still not that level of trust, even as Churilla teases us with hints that he might not be quite what he seems. With no definitive answer yet, it makes the eventual reveal that much more tantalizing. And with more CIA tidbits being unleashed, it’s also a good reminder that the real world happenings are just as important as the psychic realm’s.
It doesn’t hurt that Churilla’s art looks good as always. Cooper’s transformation looks creepy and grotesque, but he’s just as easily able to handle scenes like Cooper hopping a fence. There’s a fight scene involving an elbow to the teeth that I found particularly effective; the expressions might be a little cartoonish, but the implied motion as that elbow connects with mouth feels perfect, to say nothing of the knee to the head.
The biggest surprise for me, though, involves Cooper heading to a certain airport to have a rendezvous with destiny on Northwest Orient Airlines Flight 305. I hadn’t realized that Churilla was going to head to this pivotal (and famous) moment in Cooper’s life quite so quickly, and knowing now that it’s on the horizon makes “The Secret History of D.B. Cooper” even more interesting. We all know that he’s going to leap off the plane with money and a parachute, but in many ways I think a lot of us expected that to be near the end of the series. With the moment almost upon us, it makes the, “What really happened?” answer all the more full of possibilities. It’s going to be a bumpy ride and this issue for me just sealed wanting to be on board for when it happens.