SPOILER WARNING: The following article contains major spoilers for The Unexpected #2 by Steve Orlando, Cary Nord, Wade von Grawbadger, Jeromy Cox and Carlos M. Manguel, on sale now.
If you love the deepest, weirdest pockets of the DC Universe, then The Unexpected is the comic for you. Writer Steve Orlando already has a reputation for rehabilitating or revitalizing forgotten aspects of DC continuity; he’s the guy that brought back Extrano from New Guardians, Freedom Beast from Animal Man, The Mawzir and The Ace of Winchesters from Hitman and more. But The Unexpected is letting him cut loose in a way that really lets him stretch his love for the DC Universe while doing perhaps the best thing a creator can do within superhero comics… add something new to the mix.
The first issue of The Unexpected introduced us to Firebrand, Neon The Unknown, Viking Judge, The Ascendant and their archenemy Alden Quench aka The Bad Samaritan, and then killed off everyone except Firebrand and Neon in the forging of a new Nth Metal isotope. Now, the unlikely pair have one of the most dangerous, indestructible objects in the DC Universe on their hands and that puts a big target on their back and their search for sanctuary takes them to a familiar location with a very unexpected (excuse the pun) resident from the furthest reaches of DC's vast cosmic timeline.
The Sin Eater
Right now, Firebrand and Neon The Unknown are being hunted by Onimar Synn, a Hawkman enemy first introduced by David S. Goyer, Geoff Johns and Stephen Sadowski in 2001’s JSA #23. One of the seven demons of Thanagarian myth, he was the deadliest, and spent much of Thanagar’s recent history trapped in a cage of Nth Metal until a war led to his accidental freedom, allowing him to once again enslave Thanagar and its people until he was brought down by the returned Carter Hall. Most recently, he was seen in the pages of Dark Nights: Metal, where he hoped to use Plastic Man’s unique properties to power a weapon which would save his world, should the rest of the universe sink into the Dark Multiverse. His plan, however, was foiled by Mister Terrific, Green Lantern and the Martian Manhunter.
Now in the wake of the destruction of the Source Wall, Onimar Synn has a much more pressing mission: To acquire any remaining sources of Nth Metal, which he uses to feed off souls of the living. Without more Nth Metal, Onimar Synn will starve, which is why he’s so interested in the Nth Metal isotype created in the battle between Neon The Unknown’s team and The Bad Samaritan. With his agent on Earth dead, he sends General Phade — a character only seen in the three-issue “Return Of Hawkman” arc which introduced Synn — to track down Neon The Unknown and get that isotope, by any means necessary.
Phade arrives on Earth with an army of Manhawks, twisted to Synn’s purpose due to extensive exposure to the astral realm. The Manhawks date back to some of the earliest adventures of the Silver Age Hawkman, Katar Hol and it was their reign of terror on Thanagar which led to Thanagarians learning how to harness Nth Metal into flight-capable wings in order to combat their enemies. Firebrand is able to hold off the attack thanks to her Conflict Engine, but with Synn still on their tail, it’s up to Neon The Unknown to get the pair of them and the Nth Metal isotope to safety.