Back in late February Valiant Comics wrapped up the first arc on its new series Unity. Bringing together some of its biggest characters, Valiant put out a very unconventional superhero team book that saw casualties from the get go and sought to redefine the characters involved, making them all part of a larger shared universe. Eternal Warrior, Ninjak, X-O Manowar, Livewire and Toyo Harada are characters who fluctuated a bit in how interesting and developed they were but liked them all I did, and I’ve stuck with the series since its first issue.
The new arc began last month and saw several important changes in how the “team” was structured. The characters involved, having gone through a crucible of sorts, are now in their restoration phase, slowly getting used to the change in status quo that has come about due to the first arc. But, things aren’t calm because there is another supervillain in the background, who is up to no small amount of mischief, and he is the one that the team has to take out this time. With a mostly good story and some decent art, the future of Unity looks very promising.
Where the first arc of the series was pretty spectacular, beginning and ending on a great note, the new arc feels a little disjointed. And that’s largely because the villain involved isn’t as interesting as before and it all plays up to some of the cliches and tropes of the superhero genre. Dr. Silk could have been a really interesting villain but in these two issues, none of that really comes into play, especially with the sixth issue where there is a ton of exposition and most of it really drags down the story. I appreciate the direction that Matt Kindt was going in with all of that, but it came off as ham-fisted and totally unnecessary.
Livewire, now an agent of MI6 in exchange for protection against Harada, is sent on her first mission for her new bosses but things don’t go as planned for her, and the rest of the team is called in. And even as the team forms once more, Ninjak in particular undergoes a mission of his own that casts a pall over the new mission and hints at how things are going to play out between the heroes and the villainour big bad himself. With his first arc on the series Matt Kindt did a lot of experimental things and he really played with the whole concept of superheroes, and whether superheroes was the right term. He explored the ambiguity of that… term, and that was one of the best parts of the first arc. With the second arc however, something is distinctly lacking. The story is still exciting and interesting, but nowhere near the same level as what I’ve already seen.
The best bits perhaps were those to do with Livewire herself and with Ninjak, who are both very fascinating characters. Matt Kindt develops both of them quite a bit in this issue, and we get to see all sides of them here. Conversely, X-O Manowar and Eternal Warrior don’t get to do much except look menacingly pretty every now and then. But that’s the nature of a team book I suppose, that someone is developed at the cost of another. Still, when all is said and done, both these issues prove that Matt Kindt still has a lot of gas left in his tank of ideas and that he is still looking to do some different things with the genre, even if it doesn’t prove to be so successful. That’s how I look at it.
The art in these two issues isn’t by Doug Braithwaite, who did the entire first arc, but by CAFU, and the styles are very different. Perhaps owing to that, I didn’t enjoy the pencils in these two issues as much as I did in the first arc. The characters were drawn just that little bit differently than what I’m used to and that affected my perception of the characters. But, CAFU did not do anything radically different and mostly stuck to what is tried and true, which was good. And Brian Reber continued his excellent streak on the colours, as did Dave Sharpe with the letters for both issues.
The writing in these two issues was a bit off, as was the artwork, but still, they both stand up well when compared to what has already come before. And perhaps it is owing to the novelty of the characters, for me, or something else, but I have to say that I’m still as interested in this series as I was after reading the first issue, and I can’t wait to see what the creative team does next with all of this.