by Matt Kindt (Writer), Doug Braithwaite (Artist), Brian Reber (Colorist)

The Story: As the Unity Squad continues their mission against Aric, Livewire gains control of the X-O armor and gets a view of the big picture.

The Review: As readers, it is normal to hope for good books on the market. It may sound like the most obvious of lines, yet not all series released can actually attain that general positive comment from everybody. With personal tastes and all accounting to this, the search for such books is something that is always the key for most comic enthusiast. It is, however, usually attached with the possibility of great books, those that aren’t just competent, but excellent in the ways that really count. Most readers would certainly enjoy to have only great books in their pull list, but to really have so is something rather hard to achieve.

In such situations, what’s usually pretty rare is to see a good book actually reach a new level, going from very competent to thoroughly enjoyable, as if the creative team had upped their game in order to really raise the stakes. Understanding that the best way to impress readers is to really go all the way, books like these are always a very pleasant surprise for fans.

It is what Matt Kindt has achieved with Unity, a book that had begun strongly and then went on to struggle a bit, only to get much better with this third issue, giving surprises, actions and plenty of goodness for fans of Valiant, a universe that is constantly growing.

The first thing that Kindt does right in this issue is to provide a balance between personal and global, with the majority of the plot being told with the point-of-view of Livewire. With a look at her past and her general morality, the way she takes control of the X-O armor and provides her insight of the mission she is a part of makes for a really well put-together exploration of who she is, what she values and her general methods. Giving a thorough insight into who she is, Kindt provides for a very fine approach to more personal moments in the issue.

Despite all this, the rest of the team and the conflict are never delegated to the side of the story, which is commendable. The action, the ongoing conflict and how others are reacting are all factoring with the general direction and voice Livewire provide for this issue, with characters like Harada and Aric being especially important to the general themes and the tone of the issue. Despite the heavy focus on Livewire, the reasons why the other characters are here and what they bring to the book in terms of characteristic and personality traits is never forgotten, with the sarcastic Ninjak and empathic Gillad Anni-Padda contributing despite their lack of spotlight.

What’s most impressive, though, is the way Kindt uses the already established Valiant history without making it too obscure or impossible to understand, pushing forth events like the war against the Vine and other such events in the story without it being forced or contrived. The sequence where Livewire understands just who Aric really is stands as something rather beautiful, both in terms of comparison of character background and general themes. Combining bigger moments like these to smaller moments and imbuing them in the history of the Valiant universe, it makes the book and the setting it represents that much better.

What also manage to make things rather incredible is the art, with Doug Braithwaite knocking it out of the park in this issue, providing for some impossibly striking imagery with some pages. The inventive panel layout, the amount of emotions and the general playfulness Braithwaite shows makes a lot of the scenes rather evocative, setting the mood and making the events as large as they need to be, making sure the impact reach the readers in the correct manner. The backgrounds and the sceneries he provides also helps put the setting up neatly, providing all the context needed for the scenes to work as well as they can. Where he falter just a little bit, though, is with facial expressions, with a certain lack of diversity in some cases and a preference for more subtle work that doesn’t always provide the intensity needed most of the time. Still, despite this, it’s some very strong work from Doug Braithwaite.

The colors of Brian Reber are also very well done, with some especially nice touches of shading and light effects, setting up the darkness of the depths and the alien-look of several machinery without stretching credibility too far. The manner in which he uses the color pattern of the X-O armor is a very smart move in most scenes, using the character in order to provide for some contrasts, like in the depths of the sea or against duller machinery. The colorization is especially strong at providing an extra layer of context to the more out-there elements, like the rays, super powers and technology that are akin to the Valiant setting. Mixing subtlety and the bombastic, Reber proves to be the right colorist here, which benefits the book greatly.

The Conclusion: With a story that manage to explore a character and advance the story quite well while balancing the rest, Matt Kindt impress as his additions to the Valiant universe proves to be very entertaining and well thought-out. With the artistic talent of Doug Braithwaite and the colors of Brian Reber, it also manages to look very good, making this issue an essential read for fans of this universe.

Grade: A-

-Hugo Robberts Larivière