Review: Unity #1
Published by Valiant Entertainment
Written by Matt Kindt
Art by Doug Braithwaite
Coloured by Brian Reber
The story opens with a food critic turned de facto reporter named Renee Rousseaux covering “The Battle of Berceni,” which involves a conflict between Russia and X-O Manowar over land occupation. Afterwards Aric (X-O) returns to his fellow Visigoths. Meanwhile an injured Gilad (The Eternal Warrior) visits Toyo Harada as they devise a plan to deal with X-O Manowar. Harada has assembled a team of psiots called Unity to deal with X-O and Gilad is able to utilize his vast amount of knowledge to help them strategize. Back in Romania, a man is sitting at a restaurant and is revealed to be none other than Ninjak. He quickly springs into action and his mission is to disable X-O’s ship. The psiots engage X-O and the battle is fierce. The battle grows in terms of participants while Harada goes to seek the help of one of the most powerful psiots alive. However, time is short because the military is waiting to intervene in a less than subtle manner.
I’m usually about 50/50 on whether or not I really like first issues. Even if I enjoy the overall premise I may still find the first issue to be tedious due to the exposition or pacing. However, this issue was paced very well and it managed to get a lot of backstory in. I thought that there would be a lot of recapping in order to catch people up, but Kindt didn’t do this and it was still very accessible to new readers. There were characters from various titles yet Kindt did a great job of capturing their voices and personalities. With the premise of the title and the characters involved I was kind of expecting a decompressed story, but this was not the case at all. I really enjoyed the inclusion of Renee at the beginning because she was able to provide us with a firsthand account of the X-O armor. I’ve purchased every issue of X-O Manowar and I enjoyed hearing what encountering it is like from someone on the ground. The first few pages were effective at showing why the world fears Aric and why they believe he poses such a threat. From Aric’s perspective, he just wants his people to be able to live their lives as they would have if not for the Vine’s interference. He’s saved the world from the Vine and just wants to live undisturbed and sees his actions as defending his people. On the other hand, the rest of the world sees him as a barbarian because he mercilessly kills those that attack him. It was amusing to see that Gilad has a history with Harada. Every title that he appears in he knows everyone because he’s been around since ancient times. Seeing Harada taking the X-O threat so seriously did a lot to help build the tension in this issue. He’s the man with the plan and arguably the most powerful person on the planet and he’s showing something different…fear. Even Capshaw’s dialogue with Harada had a different tone to it because he’s abIe to pull so many strings yet even he is limited here due to the urgency of the situation. I like how Aric’s actions in X-O are having some serious repercussions because this is something that has kind of nagged me a little bit. I also like seeing the different abilities that the psiots exhibit. Gilad’s reaction to what Harada’s plans are with the psiots was interesting as well. The team assembled by Harada were surprisingly decently-developed. I only say this because of the brief amount of space that was provided for their introduction. The characters, Mirror and Ether, were interesting and the team as a whole showed the work and thought that Harada puts into planning. The team’s abilities and personalities provided some potentially compelling dynamics. I was glad they didn’t go with basic psiots that were all super strong, etc. For instance, Ether is socially inept and relatively unskilled at combat, but he still brings a lot to the table. I enjoyed how Gilad used the knowledge gathered by countless experiences to help them prepare for battle. I also liked how Ninjak smugly and unapologetically does his job without any regard whatsoever. The battle was pretty damn fierce and pretty damn convincing. It took a turn that I really didn’t expect. The cliffhanger with Harada seeking assistance was good because of how things were left with this particular character over in the Harbinger title. The art is in this issue was really good and there were some panels that really made me wish that I had the original art pages. The action scenes looked epic and the exposition scenes were crisp and helped to tell a good story. Very good showing by Braithwaite indeed. You want anything coloured excellently? Call Brian Reber. I’m always impressed by the quality of work he puts out and it’s no wonder why he’s got an exclusive contract with Valiant. It doesn’t matter whose work he’s colouring, he always manages to strongly complement it. I enjoyed this issue a lot.
I was a bit put off by Aric’s reaction to Ninjak because I thought they had developed some sort of rapport during the Vine invasion. I thought that there would be a little bit of dialogue offered up by Aric, but this was not the case. I’m a bit on the fence with Aric because I do see his point, but he’s so damn stubborn to the point of almost being unlikeable sometimes. He showed some growth (in terms of wisdom) at the conclusion of the Planet Death arc in X-O Manowar, but that growth seems to be overshadowed in both of these titles. I’m a little bit disappointed with the outcome of the battle, but I understand that it was necessary. It was pretty badass nonetheless. I would really like to see either a Ninjak ongoing or mini sometime in the future.
Buy It, Borrow It, Shelf Read It, or Ignore It?
Buy It. This was a very good first issue. One of the reasons why I like, nay, love Valiant so much is that they truly care about providing readers with quality. This could’ve easily been a brainless action-packed story, but instead they provide many little details and care about telling a great story. This title involves some ongoing plots from other titles, but it is surprisingly accessible and a good jumping on point for new readers. Unity does a great job of bringing it all to the table and I’m officially onboard. Next week I’ll be adding this to my file at my LCS. Valiant was my favorite publisher in 2012 and looks to be once again in 2013. Check out Unity when it comes out on November 13, 2013.
Tags: Brian Reber, Doug Braithwaite, Matt Kindt, Ninjak, Unity, X-O Manowar