by Matt Kindt (Writer), Cafu (Artist), Brian Reber (Colorist)
The Story: Dr. Silk strikes in a bizarre way as the many players on this book learns the existence of a previous team much like their own.
The Review: The more I read some writers, the more I can begin to distinguish when they actually put in some effort and when they don’t seem to actually care all that much. While a lot of creators always do try to put in a semblance of effort, it can be easy to see when some, like Bendis, Hickman and others, have an actual passion for what they are writing.
Matt Kindt is not a writer that actually serve as an exception, with some titles like Mind MGMT being a much better showing of his talent than his tenure on Justice League of America and Suicide Squad. With a bit more creative freedom in his other work, he does tend to present a wilder and more imaginative side to his persona that does make for quality stories. However, with him being rather popular at Valiant right now, does his work on Unity stand out as a more passionate or as an after-thought?
Thankfully for fans of the Valiant universe, his very work on the team book of this universe is a much more entertaining affair thanks to Kindt playing around. Introducing concepts as well as playing well with previously established one, the writer presents a fun take on how team books can function as well as he insert his own ideas in the Valiant universe.
What he does right immediately is set up a certain hook for the team, making it so they are mostly allies instead of much of anything, with each characters having formed a certain pact yet not one that is especially overt or anything. With an attitude toward teaming up that is more akin to the old Defenders book than it is to the likes of Justice League or the Avengers, this is a team dedicated to keeping things in control, yet without any clear friendship or greater dedication yet to the job. The way Aric, Ninjak and Gilad interact with each other is a great example of that, with the Visigoth not being greatly interested in the schemes or in the explanations more than his debt to Livewire.
With many of the relations being complicated, yet not confusingly so, the cast shines in ways that makes their actions and reactions entertaining. It’s a constant clash of personality that makes it a fun mess to look at. The way Ninjak deals with enemies is certainly different to how Aric does so, with some action scenes showing the shift between the two in a most amusing way.
Where Kindt brings some more interesting elements, though, is where he gets to inject this universe with his ideas. Re-interpreting some other concepts in his own manner, the writer adds to the history of the Valiant universe as he offers a version much alike this team set in the past. Playing with concepts like the Shadowman, an earlier version of Bloodshot and other such additions, Kindt is allowed some liberties which he seemingly takes full advantage of. Adding to the history and making parallels, the very shared universe in constant construction gets richer with issues like these, with the writer being obviously comfortable in this sandbox of theirs.
However, with the standard way Valiant do things, there is a different artist with each arc, with Doug Braithwaite nowhere to be found. Fortunately, his replacement is Cafu, an artist who did great things in other books thanks to a good attention to detail, yet with a style that attach itself very well to super heroics and the like. With a good handle on expressions and a good focus on the characters and their actions, Cafu manage to make the most out of the script, switching from one character to the other in a fluid fashion. His settings are also well-represented, balancing smaller details in a way that does bring out the tone of the scenes without making them overshadow the character without playing too much of a second fiddle on anything. There is just enough for them to count without making them too complicated, making it so there are just the right amount of details for the issue to work. However, with a certain dedication to a more traditional super hero approach, there is a certain lack of aesthetical uniqueness to the issue that makes its competence unexceptional at times. It’s good, but it doesn’t go near the greatness it could have.
Much of the same could be said of Brian Reber here, whose color work is very decent, with a level of talent that makes many of the pages quite functional and beautiful at times, yet not in any way that scream ”exceptional”. While his handle on brightness, shading and his low amount of focus on contrasts in starker themes makes the issue work very well, there aren’t that many moments where the readers can feel he is experimenting or more visceral. While there are pages where Reber works with shadows alongside cold and warm colors to convey a sense of uneasiness and violence that work very well, those are few and far between as he is more of a cooperative worker to the script than he seems to be an artist in his own right. It might sound harsh considering how much his work adds to Cafu’s visual in some place, yet Reber has shown in the past that he could be truly exceptional.
The Conclusion: With a very decent artistic direction along with some new and interesting ideas added to the Valiant Mythos, this issue provide for a fun entry in this ever-growing universe. With a fun cast, some decent concepts and a unique take on things, it is a very competent read that should please fans.
-Hugo Robberts Larivière