After 9/11, a government official recruits various people for something called the Think Tank. Their task is to think up possible terrorist attacks, particularly ones like those on September 11, 2001 where everyone was caught off guard. The Think Tank consists of a half dozen or so people from various backgrounds like Alan Ripley, the best-selling author whose tales of government agents saving the world enchant readers and wow movie audiences.
“Unthinkable” #1 has a pretty solid set-up with that concept, focusing on Ripley as he goes from popcorn writer to a guy trying to save the world. His brother, Steven, is a real-life hero, a former special ops man turned ‘private contract trainer’ who dies on 9/11. The two don’t exactly get along with Alan always wanting more information that he can sensationalize and Steven thinking his brother a dickish sell-out who doesn’t really understand the world.
Mark Sable tries to cram a lot into this first issue as it covers a decade, moving in and out of events in an effort to catch us up to speed. While the ideas thrown out are interesting and engaging — like the first meeting of the Think Tank where they discuss how terrorists would stop oil production if they wanted — the issue breezes by very quickly to reach that final page cliffhanger. It may be a very good cliffhanger, but the page limitations really hurt the pacing of this issue.
Alan Ripley, at least, is given enough space for his personality and desires to be apparent. By the end of the issue, it’s very clear who he is and what he’s all about as he moves from self-centered, worried about making thrilling movies to a man shattered by the loss of his one chance to actually contribute something to the world. He spends the issue living in his brother’s shadow except for his time with the Think Tank, and how he reacts to that chance is a little surprising as he gets into numerous arguments with his colleagues, almost walking out at one point.
Julian Totino Tedesco’s style is very well suited to this material. While “Unthinkable” is a high concept action book, it primarily deals with regular people interacting and Tedesco nails that. His soft lines are very expressive as he uses shadows to give the world here a dark feel. His page designs are very interesting, like the way he lays out the trailer for “Y2K: The Movie,” as shown in the preview pages. At other times, he experiments with his drawings of buildings and backgrounds, making them a little sketchier or having them drop away for effect.
“Unthinkable” #1 does what a first issue should: it makes you want to see what happens next. Sadly, it also reads more like a briskly-paced prologue than the proper start of this story, rushing through events to get to those final pages where things really get going. That said, it’s an entertaining debut and shows a lot of potential.