Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Review - Unity #1


"It is not safe here. You should leave."

Valiant Comics has been carefully revitalizing the brand, offering readers quality books on a monthly basis that all seem to be better than the previous month's releases. All of those offerings have focused on a select few characters, all of whom seem to share encounters with other characters from the same universe. Now, Valiant is teaming a bunch of them up against a common enemy in Unity #1. The issue is written by Matt Kindt and illustrated by Doug Braithwaite.

Aric's prowess as a warrior is proving to be ridiculous, prompting Harada to bring in the big guns in Gilad. Gilad doesn't seem to be very impressed with the team Harada has assembled to go after X-O Manowar, but Harada has a trick up his sleeve in Ninjak. Considering how this is a centuries old warrior with an immensely powerful suit, things don't go as expected when facing off against him. This prompts Harada to look to his bench for yet another combatant to trout out and face him. Things are only going to get worse before they get better it would seem for everyone not named Aric.

Valiant has spent a lot of effort in rebuilding its universe in the past couple of years. Introducing new readers to old characters with different storylines. Many of them seem to have revolved around X-O Manowar and his sheer ability to wreck any army facing him and that's what Kindt capitalizes on in Unity #1. His tale unfolds very methodically, with Aric being shown as a hero first before being shown a villain. Harada is pulling out all the stops to take down Aric, regardless of the costs to him and his team. It's a story that really gives X-O Manowar all the cards and really makes the reader wonder if there's anyone or anything that stands a chance of taking him down.

While the warrior is wrecking shop though, Kindt takes a moment to stop and smell the roses. The page near the beginning where the photographer describes how he smells and sounds is particular powerful, as it connects with the reader on a different level. Comics typically only offer sight, so Kindt making it a point to describe to the reader more about X-O Manowar physical presence really goes a long to way to generate in the reader a sense of pity. Aric has been through much in his ordeals surrounding the suit and it's a great way to really make the reader question who the real villain is in the confrontation: Aric or Harada (Harbinger fans might say the latter).

Braithwaite definitely holds his own on the artistic front as well. Aric looks very stoic in the X-O Manowar suit, deflecting all manner of attack while keeping his cool. The opening pages do a great job of immersing the reader into the action alongside the equally as surprised photographer and Braithwaite captures that mayhem very well. All of the characters wear the emotion on their faces very well, informing the reader of the gravity of the situation they're faced with. He also does some great work in stacking the panels on various pages dependent on the action being portrayed and not many can pull off a flaming head being catapulted across the page.

Valiant is wagering big on Unity and after the first issue it looks like that wager is paying off. Kindt is crafting a very solid story that's not rushing to hit any milestones or major events. Instead, he's offering up a character in Aric who's so devastatingly powerful that it's really going to take everything and then some to stop him. Braithwaite's art is a great pairing with Kindt's script, bringing the action to the pages in a very beautiful manner that emphasizes the strengths and weakness of all the characters. The first issue established that this will be an epic battle that will continue for quite a while.

Unity #1 is in stores November 13 with interiors below.




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