Sunday, February 16, 2014

Unity #1 (New Valiant)

Aric of Dacia is a Visigoth from 402 AD, who, due to stuff that happened over about eighteen issues involving aliens, was kidnapped, escaped, stole a superweapon suit of armour, freed his fellow Visigoth prisoners, escaped the alien homeworld, and returned to Earth to find nearly 2000 years have passed, due to time dilation (I guess). Now in the present day, Aric wishes to take back the Visigoth homeland, now Romania, and he intends to do this by force, whether Romania or the rest of the world likes it or not. Meanwhile, entrepreneur and founder of the Harbinger Foundation Toyo Harada assembles a crack team to defuse the situation before full blown nuclear war breaks out...

Unity #1 has been touted as a jumping on point for new readers of the revived Valiant company. Don't believe a word of that. This is NOT a jumping on point! If you don't know who or what any of these characters are, you'll be plain lost! You won't know their character, their motivations (especially when it comes to Aric), and in the case of Ninjak, you won't even know his name until near the end! And of course, you'll be missing out on all of what's happened to Aric, and his character development in the 17 or so issues he had up until this point. Ninjak appears the most, and narrates quite a bit, so he's the most well-rounded character here.

Now, there is a page at the start that briefly goes over the lead-up to Unity (with pretty goofy colours and graphics for such a serious comic), but it's basically XO Man-O-War: The Cliff-Notes Version.

This whole first issue is just setup, in the bad way, or so I felt at first. I felt that the story didn't properly get into gear here, and while that is mostly true, on reflection, this is better than what I originally made of it.

Aside from that, there's nothing inherently wrong with the writing, except when it comes to the Unity team at the end, which are obvious cannon-fodder. The moment they appear, Aric wastes them in seconds. Yeah, I get it, he's powerful, I got that impression when he destroyed a town and slaughtered the Russian army stationed there! You didn't need to waste both mine, and your time with this pointless diversion, comic!

There is at least some fun action with Ninjak at the end, though it's short-lived.

By far my biggest problem with this is that, quite frankly, it's not Unity. The original Valiant's Unity was a universe-shattering miniseries, epic in scope-this Unity is just about some guy who wants to take over Romania, and a few other people want to stop him. In fact, what this series should have been called is Secret Weapons, because that's what it is! It's about a superpowered team of heroes (including Livewire and Gilad, and the eventual involvement of British secret service) who get together to save the world from a dire threat to the world. Sounds like Secret Weapons to me. It sounds like they only called this comic Unity for the marketing pull the name would have.

The artwork is definitely fine. No complaints from me here. It's a little too liney and gritty for my tastes, but it's by no means ugly, or uncomfortable to look at, and it always seems like the artist actually knows what human beings look like, unlike, say, Rob Liefeld of Image Comics. There are a couple of splash pages that border on the line between fine and unnecessary. As for the cover, it's very good, minus the literally blank background.

While I didn't enjoy this much, I've read previews of later issues, and they seem decent enough that I'm inclined to read them. And given that I liked this better rereading it a few days later, I guess I recommend it. I'll have to see how this series pans out beyond the setup...

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