Comic Thursdays: Within Temptation’s "The Unforgiving"

(Comic Adapted by Steven O’Connell, Romano Molenaar, Martin Montiel, Marco Galli, and Joel Seguin)
(Ideas for comic created by Within Temptation-A Highly talented Dutch Symphonic Rock/Metal Band)

 Who here are both huge fans of both comics and well-produced metal music? I’m definitely one of those avid fans of both genres that really are not polar opposites at all.  To my  surprise, Within Temptation’s newest album last year was based off of a premise for a comic book that was planned to be simultaneously released. Excitingly, the comics have been released every several months because the story is certainly expansive and fascinating enough to warrant more than one volume. Knowing how terrible films based off video games are, I actually had very dim expectations of the comics. I presupposed that the terrible relationship between films and video games would be shared by a very different bond that is formed between music and comic books. Since Within Temptation mentioned that they were huge fans of eighties rock music and the comic books that they often read whilst listening to this music, wouldn’t it be a grand idea to fuse both those loves and pay homage to it in their newest album?. I absolutely love their newest album,The Unforgiving, which does have very heavy eighties rock influences pervading the sound. What about the comics themselves? Are they on par with the album in terms of quality?

One of the songs featured on “The Unforgiving” focuses on the moral paradox of “righteous murder”

     To my surprise, the comic book itself was not at all bad, it was not necessarily a colossal masterpiece either. Throughout the first three volumes, there is special focus placed on a female cop named Janyce, who is ridden with grief over certain unfortunate circumstances in her life. Her character reminds me of the male version of Angel from Joss Whedon’s infamous spin-off of his popular series, Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Janyce seems to be a very brooding character, as she is facing perpetual mental warfare over some grief in her life that underlies all her actions. She is often “a woman of very few words,” and carries a stolid stare much like Angel. She is the rogue character that is not completely involved with the proceedings of her mundane life, rather her grief causes her to be detached because she cannot entirely deal with it.

     In the early pages of the comic, the dialogue sometimes feels a little stilted, as though the writers were still trying to seek out the right pace and correct way of allowing the plot to proceed towards the larger revelation that loomed over the reader throughout the first three volumes. Until the fourth volume, we are left wading through a lot of necessary exposition, while the main plot is still left out in the shadows. It was the fourth volume that really helped redeem the comic in my eyes. It was at that point when the entire comic started to make much more sense, and the early volumes had a bit more purpose because you can see how the first three volumes slowly developed towards the “big reveal.” Normally, I find pilot episodes of television series to be laborious because we are not yet in the thick of the plot’s substance. Within these comics, the first three volumes act as that slow pilot episode that does nothing but create impatience for a much more intriguing plot that the creators are purposely forestalling for suspense purposes.

   In terms of the art, it is not anything particularly special. If anything, it was adequate enough to help flesh out certain dynamics within the story.  There was a great range of darker and lighter colors used, which was meant to evoke the dichotomy between the mundane world where nothing beyond our comprehension happens or the criminal nighttime where the world is flooded with the undetectable supernatural or immoral forces. Wonderfully, the main plot surrounding a league of crime fighters that are “remorseful killers” prevents the plot from becoming simply “a moral tale of good versus evil.” Ironically, there are still evil forces though within this comic; they are the killers who supposedly are not remorseful for what they’ve done. It is the aforementioned characters who are part of this league of ambiguously moral characters that the comic focuses mostly on; these characters reflect our own unfocused moral senses. They are what drives both our emotions and captivation with the comic.

   This dynamic is not something new for comic book heroes; Spiderman and Batman often struggle over their sense of morality all throughout their lives as heroes. Within Anne Rice’s recent novel “The Wolf Gift,” Reuben is constantly plagued with the question of whether or not his murderous actions are underpinned with good intentions; is there really a form of murder that is not definitively “good” or “evil?” Sinead, within the Unforgiving Comics, grapples with this very important philosophical question throughout Within Temptation’s accompanying album, and in the comics themselves. Then again, Sinead does not come into the equation of the story till much later, so we are left lingering the first three volumes without fully delving into this metaphysical formula that has proved to be a very exceptional formula in any stories involving vigilantes that work outside any mode of governmental authority.

    Interestingly, this very magnetic theme of the harsh struggle of feeling like the rogue or outsider within society that has the pretense of being “completely pluralistic,” is still very recurrent. While this equation has always been relevant, it has become more even more popular as society supposedly works to become less conformist. Perhaps, these comics or stories, featuring vigilantes, are trying to show us that we can never fully evolve ourselves past the confines of certain mainstay features of our humanity. Surprisingly, one of the songs by Delain,from their forthcoming album:We are the Others, must have been a bit inspired by some of the themes presented in Within Temptation’s “The Unforgiving,” though this song focuses less on superheroes and more upon the misunderstood social groups within our society that often identify themselves as “outsiders.” While superheroes or violent moral crusaders might be a different type of outsider, there is still a certain element of their struggle that keeps reappearing in all types of various songs by metal or rock groups. It is an impermeable theme that I highly doubt that we’ll ever overcome.

   Final Thoughts:   Anyways, I was really quite surprised that the comic based off Within Temptation’s album was able to plumb such interesting philosophical topics,even if the first three volumes seem to stray a bit from entirely delving into the substance of the plot. If you remain patient though, the fourth volume truly rewards the reader who remains steadfast. I still have not yet read the fifth volume or sixth volume (Has that even be released yet???).  Eventually though, Ill have to purchase them from Within Temptation’s online store, which for now seems like the only vendor that sells these comics.

       Links of Interest: Temptation’s Official Site -Within Temptation’s Official Store (Trustworthy vendor for the comics) – Within Temptation’s Facebook Page – Within Temptation’s Twitter Page
If you like the Delain song below, I highly reccomend these links:
Delain’s Official Page-
A Very Good Delain Fan Page-
Place to Order new Delain Album (Released in NA on July 3rd,2012)
Delain’s Facebook Page:

Here is the Delain song that was mentioned above towards the end of my review!

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