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

The Story: The team of Ninjak, Livewire and Gilad Anni-Padda tries to retrieve the X-O Manowar armor from Harada’s grasp.

The Review: Taking risks as a necessary thing in comics. With many titles having very similar premises and using tropes that are unfortunately the norm these days, a book needs to have an identity of its own and most of the time, it passes through risks in terms of its concepts and execution.

For all its marketing and its qualities, Unity is still, at its core, a super-hero team book. With so many on the market right now, the quirks and original ideas need to be emphasized further to make itself stand out in a wave of other such titles. Thankfully, Matt Kindt seemed to have a pretty good idea for the title, which has been executed in a manner that made the title rather interesting. With Unity not being a team per se, with each members having their own agenda and their own affiliation, this was more something akin to Defenders than Justice League or Avengers. The story, acting upon that fact and the manner in which the Valiant universe treat super powers made for an interesting story, which reached a point that was decidedly captivating by the end of the latest issue. However, with this one being the concluding issue of the first arc, does the ending satisfy and provide a good launch pad for the rest the series?

It’s a bit mixed, unfortunately, with some of the elements and aspects being definitely interesting, yet some are also a bit problematic and questionable in their execution. It does provide some necessary progression and does set up a conclusion that’s more effective than unsatisfying, but the quality and the manner in which it reaches it makes the wait for the next issue an ambiguous anticipation.

Where Kindt work really well is with the cast he is set up with. The way he writes Livewire, Gilad Anni-Padda, Toyo Harada and Ninjak is especially fun, with their personality flowing through their action and dialogue. The sarcasm and professionalism of Ninjak, the intransigence of Harada, the loyalty of Livewire and many other traits permeates the scene, making those particular characteristic integral to the scenes and the development, proving that Kindt is truly able to bring out the best of each characters without making it look forced or inconsistent.

Not all characters contribute in the best of ways, though, with Renee Rousseaux, the journalist that opened up the first issue, feeling utterly forced here. While the way she brought up the conflict and complemented the book with a more humane perspective made for a great addition in the first book, her addition does not really stack up to anything here. With the story having focused heavily if not inclusively on the aforementioned characters, the return of Renee seems to come out of absolutely nowhere as her pages only serves as ineffective recaps or general platitudes toward the conclusion.

What’s a bit better, but not in a way that is consistent in terms of quality is the action. With this aspect being a staple of the super hero genre, Kindt give some great moments as well as some frustrating ones when it comes to battle and conflicts. The parts with Ninjak battling an invulnerable psiot are entertaining, with a certain balance between humor and trading blows that makes it amusing as well as fairly exciting. The battle with Toyo Harada, however, feels a little bit too short for it to be effective. Considering what the characters can do and how it could have been, the conflict between the team and Harada is more on the anticlimactic side, with a resolution that isn’t as satisfying as it could have been.

What’s also not as satisfying is the art of Doug Braithwaite, who comes as less focused in this issue. While his composition and the layout in which he plays around with the action are quite impressive, the inherent focus on characters in closer fashion showcase some of his weaknesses in ways that are quite apparent. His muddled lines are especially rough, with several traits in some places that make some of the details and precisions seems unfinished. While not so visible in the backgrounds, which are frankly quite good, they are apparent when it comes to facial traits. It doesn’t come as a crippling details when it comes to conveying emotions, but it doesn’t help when it comes to showing a greater range of expressions. While some are subtle, some of the lines makes them either exaggerated in a bad way, or simply non-existent. It is a constant switch between stoic and expressive that hurts the book a tiny bit.

Where it’s a bit better, though not in any way that redeems the faults, is with the colorization by Brian Reber. Using a lot of lighting and shading effects, Reber is able to not overdo it in many cases, playing with small touch of obscurity and a nuanced and subtle balance between warm and cold in most places. Using the environment to maximize the contrast and bring an evolving touch from the top of the pages to the very bottom, his work manage to work with the art instead of overshadowing it.

The Conclusion
: This issue delivers a sound conclusion and a good launch pad for the series thanks to some good sequence and some great character work, yet is a bit hampered by some problematic addition, some rushed developments and some small problems with the art. It’s good, but not as great as the previous issue.

Grade: B-

-Hugo Robberts Larivière

Grade

Conclusion