Lo Sconosciuto (lit. "The Stranger" or "The Unknown One") follows the travels and tribulations of a misfit veteran with an obviously fake name (Unknow). Stories in the first series tend to conform to a basic outline: Unknow is fleeing from his previous adventures, trying to settle down and find an honest job. By some twist of fate, he gets caught between the machinations of two or more organizations and needs to fight his way out of the mess.
Ghosts of the Past: Unknow can't or doesn't want to remember most of his past—a life of violence and bloodshed. Nonetheless, memories will resurface in strikingly vivid details to haunt his frail mind. It is often sense of guilt for his past misdeeds that prods Unknow to heroism, such as when he braves a sniper to save a mortally wounded man because he is reminded of a fellow Legionnaire he let die in Vietnam. Ghosts seem to haunt other characters as well, such as Herod from "The Five Jewellers" or El Lugubre from "The Man who Killed Ernesto 'Che' Guevara".
Realism: Most stories deal with crime or terrorism, and are notable for their striking hyperrealism. More than in how the plot pans out, the author is interested in waving a rich and complex tapestry of secondary characters and exotic or familiar locales. In Magnus' world, every life is precious and every death is important: the author makes sure that even characters who amount to little more than throwaway extras are strongly characterised. In fact, Unknow's role sometimes fades into the background as much space is devoted to fleshing out other characters.
Fatalism: Events conspire to lead Unknow astray from his chosen path and back to a life of violence. The basic set-up of early stories often shows two or more factions acting at cross purposes, each unaware of the other, and doomed to mutual destruction. Unknow himself is often unaware of events transpiring around him.
Honor in Defeat: Unknow is a man defeated by life, and he's fighting an uphill battle. A corrupt, violent world is waging a war of attrition against his sanity and health. In every adventure he gets physically or mentally scarred: victory has a price, and it's usually a bitter one. On the other hand, by clinging to his few ideals and siding with the underdogs against overwhelming odds, Unknow manages to find a measure of victory even in defeat.
(Unknow created by Roberto Raviola, character sheet created by Adriano Bompani.)
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