Unity begins a new story arc this week with issue #19 as Matt Kindt brings us a new villain in War Monger and Jose Luis takes over art duties for the book.
The jump ahead in plot between last issue and the beginning of this book left me wondering if I had missed something. It wasn’t difficult to figure out, but it does leave some holes in the story for me. The flashback story was great. As is their custom, Valiant used different artists to portray the different time periods. The difference in style was a bit jarring for me, but I found the overall story enjoyable and particularly enjoyed the art of the flashbacks.
Unlike some of my other colleagues, I actually enjoyed this issue quite a bit, particularly the War Monger’s back story, and the introduction of a medieval Unity team with some interesting character amalgamations. The art did seem a little off for me in some pages but the introduction of a new artist to a book always takes a little adjustment period so I’ll wait another issue before I truly reserve judgement.
The War Monger could turn out to be a very interesting character, but her birth (literally) story could definitely use a bit more fledging out. In the classic Valiant universe, there were many violent killers throughout history which were actually Gilad’s children (Jack the Ripper immediately comes to mind), and it would be a great way to tie in some of that history to this book which at times seems to be lacking a general direction.
This issue is the start of a new arc, and, especially given the written-for-trade nature of comics’ story arcs nowadays, it’s probably too early too judge this issue. It’s fairly enjoyable and there’s a few amusing bits; however, it’s not what the title really needs at the moment.
Anyone who has been following the sales numbers knows that, despite being the “team book,” Unity has been one of the lowest-selling titles. For comparison’s sake, imagine if Avengers or Justice League were some of Marvel and DC’s lowest-selling titles, and you began to see the problem. My colleagues have theorized that it’s because the title lacks a direction, which is certainly part of the power. In my opinion, the biggest issue is that the team rarely takes on the “major” threats. At first I liked that Kindt avoided the cliche of having them simply tackle a world-threatening villain every arc, but too often it feels as if the Unity team is taking on threats that (realistically) they should have no trouble dispatching. There’s a reason why the first arc and “the United” arc were the best issues of the title thus far (the “Armor Hunters” tie-in’s were good as well, but since the main narrative was taking place in the mini-series, the Unity issues felt like more of an afterthought). I’ve enjoyed most of the book thus far, but with a team book like this, you can only do so many “small” issues, and you really have to deliver on the epic story arcs.
To be fair, it’s too early to tell with this issue, but it isn’t the beginning to a new arc that the series desperately needs.