Thursday, May 22, 2014

Uniity #5, #6, and #7 (New Valiant)

Dr. Augustus Silkowski is a mad scientist and head of Webnet, a mysterious organization, who's created a virus that turns people into rabid maniacs, controlled by him. Meanwhile, Unity team-member Amanda 'Livewire' McKee is captured when investigating a crashed alien ship in Taiwan. The rest of the team (the immortal and super-strong Gilad, the tough and resourceful British spy Ninjak, and XO Man-O-War-Aric of Dacia, an out of time Visigoth in an extremely powerful suit of sentient armour) go to Taiwan to rescue Livewire, and soon find themselves in way over their heads as the evil Dr. Silk begins to enact his masterplan...

Standing as the first 'post-crisis' story, this arc shows the now-complete Unity in action on their first routine assignment. The plot here is pretty interesting, and not only is Dr. Silk an intriguing villain, but his way of propagating is a neat touch too. I wish he would have gotten more to do though, as the only thing present-day Silk does is talk about his plans, and that's it.

Come the end, the story is technically resolved, but it ends really abruptly, and given the next arc is the company-spanning event Armour Hunters, I don't know how or if there's going to be a bridging gap between the two arcs (as 20-page comics can't waste time with resolving character moments from the previous story easily).

There's one moment which I thought was terrible at first, given the collateral damage the heroes cause, but as Silk's virus is irreversible, they wouldn't have been able to save those workers no matter what. So no, I don't really mind.

The characters are all decent. Some reviewers feel that Livewire doesn't appear enough, but I don't think that. She appears enough as far as I'm concerned. Though I wish we would have at least seen her capture at the start, rather than it abruptly cutting away, and her getting found and caught entirely off-panel. Livewire doesn't get anything in the way of characterization, but she is very proactive in stamping out the Webnet threat, and a certain something is implied about her heritage (but never touched on again).

Aric gets some nice development concerning his use of force and the high collateral damage it can cause in a situation like this. Gilad is basically just a big tough guy with an axe, who can shrug off bullet wounds. He doesn't get any development. When the characters go to Silk's base in Mexico, there's a pointless flashback to his times in the ancient Aztec era, which only serves to use up two pages, and tell us that 'Yes, Gilad HAS in fact been in Mexico in the past 600 years.'.

Ninjak is pretty amusing, and totally badass. No development either, but he has more character here than Gilad.

Despite the problem I mentioned above, Dr. Silk makes for a very good villain, with some creepy backstory. The guy's a twisted maniac, who's done a multitude of terrible, sick things, and given certain aspects of his body, and how deep Webnet runs, simply killing Silk would get Unity nowhere.

One almost problem is when he monologues abut his past and masterplan to Livewire. Even though the scene acknowledges the cliche, it's still using it. Thankfully it's not a cliche I'm particularly hard on as long as it's used well, which is is here.

Also, speaking of Silk's past, it Just So happens to be connected with a superpowered team from World War II that Gilad Just So Happened to have brought up earlier on a completely unrelated note. And Silk Just So Happens to have created the first Bloodshot prototype. To me, that felt like a cheap continuity reference for the sake of a continuity reference.

There's a certain ally that the Unity team meet in #7, and who they were was a genuine surprise to me, so kudos! They barely do/say anything after their first monologue though, so hopefully they appear again next issue.

The artwork is all very good! Nothing to complain about here! In fact, it's better than in the first Unity arc, which was pretty liney and gritty. There is one touch to the artwork that I didn't like, however-A pretty unsubtle moment when Silk is talking about creating utopia, and a statue of the Thinking Man is in the background. I GET IT.

As for Silk, I really appreciate the way he's drawn, as in Classic Valiant, he was drawn so repulsively ugly that he was annoying to look at. Thankfully Silk isn't drawn that way at any point in the story arc (not even with his original body), even if the covers to #5 and #6 would have you think otherwise.

The covers are decent. The ones for #5 and #7 at least show plenty going on (although the robots on #5?! What?!), whereas #6's cover is just of Dr. Silk's face...a face that he doesn't even resemble in any comics not 20 years old.

While not perfect, Unity's second story arc is highly entertaining, but definitely not worth the three months I waited for the issues to all come out...

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