Wunderlich: This is my first issue of Unity. I know all the characters involved, I love all the creators behind the book and I’ve even read most of Valiant’s original Unity title from 1992. What was stopping me from taking the plunge and finally diving into what should be Valiant’s dominating team book? I’ll be honest, it was Ninjak.
Ninjak is a British ninja. He’s got swords, fancy spy gear and a crummy name. I didn’t see the appeal of the original Ninjak in 1994, didn’t understand why he got a reboot in 1996 and can’t for the life of me figure out why he’s still a popular Valiant property. When I heard that they were bringing him back forUnity,I yawned.
Then again, I love Matt Kindt. Super Spy, Revolver, Mind MGMT—yeah, this guy can write. When he finally tackled mainstream superheroes with DC’s Frankenstein, I swooned. His art style is something to behold and his dialogue is never dull, but his plots always steal the show. In issue 6 of Unity he may be playing things a little loose, but he’s still a man with lots of ideas.
Ninjak, Eternal Warrior and X-O Manowar are out to rescue fellow teammate Livewire, who’s recently been captured by the diabolical Dr. Silk. We begin with our heroes trapped, wrestling with the physical cage they’re encased in as well as the moral dilemma that accompanies it. It’s a great scene to open with, showcasing each character’s personality and ethical compass. Unfortunately this trap also takes four pages to escape. This sort of pacing isn’t my cup of tea.
Wunderlich: Last week’s Archer and Armstrong failed to thrill me, but I still had high hopes for this final chapter of “Mission: Improbable”. Our muscular drunkard Armstrong was on the move to rescue his little (though incredibly talented and powerful) buddy Archer from the evil clutches of Project Rising Spirit. And the only thing that stood in his way? Bloodshot and H.A.R.D. Corps! It’s got potential, no?
With reliable writers Christos Gage and Joshua Dysart on board, of course this story had potential! Unfortunately, I found myself underwhelmed at the climax of this arc, though it did provide a few interesting twists and turns.
Liz Plourde and Randy Michaels use their final-round Xeric Grant resources to create a story about a wannabe writer/artist who is initially introduced as a likable protagonist with a plucky carefree attitude. I was a little hesitant about dipping my toe back into the largely quotidian affairs of (mostly autobiographical) self-published comics after a five year stint and five-hundred-and-twenty-one reviews as a critic at Poopsheet Foundation, but a quick glance at this package and it looked as if the creators had more to do and more to say than mere navel-gazing. In short, I think they do have something valuable to say, but it's not relayed in the most effective ways possible.
I confess that I was ultimately left puzzled by some of the creative choices and troubling issues with this, err, issue, but I'll start with a few positives. The art is nice. To my eye, it felt like a blend of Terry Moore and Adrian Tomine, with a valiant stab at the emotive qualities of the former, and an inkier more variable line weight rendition of the latter. The figure work is very strong and the backgrounds are generous. I think Michaels does a good job capturing moments of humor or self-doubt, which can be difficult to pull off visually. As a fairly ravenous college dude, I appreciated Liz's near-obsession with food, it rings true from a character standpoint; in addition to being a means to an end, allowing the character to stumble onto the idea for her sculpture project.
The book is titled How i Made The World; however, the title of the issue is prominently displayed as 'The Monster.' The advance PDF we received didn't come with a cover art, so to the untrained eye it'd be easy to mistake the title of the book as 'The Monster.' Perhaps this is the first issue of more planned issues (?) since the indicia says ''Vol. 1 No. 1,'' and 'The Monster' will then just be used functionally as a chapter heading (?). It was also never made clear to me why the letter 'i' is deliberately lower-case. I found Liz's advisor and some of the other school officials to be too catty and casual in the way they held what should have been professional conversations with Liz. I found some of the phrasing to be awkward, sentences that required reading an additional time or two to glean meaning, and sometimes they'd even shift tense mid-sentence. Liz's advisor says that the sculpture class has been full for three weeks, but suddenly ''BINGO!'' and she's in with no explanation. For me, this was emblematic of a recurring problem with the page-to-page transitions feeling jerky.