Image Comics' Undiscovered Country lands this week. Created by Scott Snyder, Charles Soule, Giuseppe Camuncoli, Daniele Orlandi and Matt Wilson, the series is already building up a positive buzz among the fans and comic book industry.
In fact, months before issue #1 hit the shelves, New Republic acquired the rights for potential franchise development in a reported seven-figure deal. It's not often that you see a studio do that with an untested property, so it's indicative that a lot of people believe in this series and its potential. However, it's unsurprising when you consider the subject matter.
Set in the not-too-distant future, a pandemic sweeps the globe and a group enters a walled-off United States of America to seek a cure and help. Of course, what they find on the other side isn't what they expected.
This sounds oddly similar to another popular Image series that just concluded, right? New Republic founder Brian Oliver thinks so too, as he said, "[Undiscovered Country has] got a little something for fans of The Walking Dead."
This comparison isn't lost on the creative team. In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Snyder and Soule stated that they're huge fans of the zombie series and everything it has achieved.
When pressed about the possibility of Undiscovered Country becoming Image's flagship title, Soule said, "We're not going to presume that it can be anything. We just want to deliver a really good story. Yes, it's a story about people walking through a changed America, you know, whatever. Our job is to deliver a hell of a story that has a strong emotional core that we care about, with a great team, that's gonna come out on time and be beautiful and everything, and that we know we can deliver."
Undiscovered Country's creative team might be playing it safe on the PR side of things, but they must be secretly hoping the series is a runaway success. The cautious approach is the right one, though, especially since it's still in its early days and no one wants the shadow of the zombie phenomenon hanging over them.
From Image's side, the publisher most certainly wouldn't say no to another smash hit like The Walking Dead. While its model is different from the likes of DC and Marvel, the generated hype helps drum up interest for the other books and the company as a whole. It may never compete with the Big Two in the marketplace, but it would like nothing more than to cement itself as the best of the rest.
That being said, while the series is similar to The Walking Dead on paper, it turns left before it reaches Hershel Greene's farm and heads down the path of dystopian political thriller. Yes, there are similar story beats and numerous characters to get to know, but it's a different story altogether. It should be judged for what it is, not what you think it might be.
Considering the team behind Undiscovered Country and its absorbing storyline, it has all the required tools to become the next big hit for Image. If it achieves the same level of success as The Walking Dead, however, only time will tell.