by Matt Kindt, Pere Perez

The curtain falls on the current arc of Unity with this fourth book that finally reveals the difficult battle that has been alluded to throughout the arc. With no tangible hints as to their foe, I’ve been eagerly waiting to see what or who was their greatest battle.

Each of the previous issues in this arc focused on one member of the team, giving readers personal insight into their private lives outside of the team. Although this issue is all about the mysterious battle, it also is a character focus on their combatant.

So who is the “big bad” of the story? None other than Malgam, the former Armor Hunter who succumbed to the parasitic armor himself. While he is big, he’s not so much bad as he is frustrated – as one poor little donkey would attest to if it hadn’t been taken out Loony Tunes-style. Speaking of which, Kindt does a good job of subtly weaving in humor in what would otherwise be a serious-toned work.

Malgam is also mourning. Mourning for the man he was and for the loss of his friends. Tired of being treated as a test subject, which he obviously voluntarily submitted to, otherwise he would have gotten up and walked out long ago. When we first encountered Malgam in the Armor Hunters saga, he was frenzied – a man being hunted by his own friends. I’m sure the influence of the armor was also plaguing his psyche. With this deeper look, Kindt helps us to appreciate what Malgam has lived through, and lets us see the bonds of friendship and family that he had with his team. Having them turn their spears against him must have been devastating.

This makes the reunion with GIN-GR so much sweeter. It was heartbreaking to see him be stuck in the past, needing to see the old holograms over and over. Now we know what the “package” was that GIN-GR needed to keep contained. Having a rogue X-O armor wearer on the loose is dangerous to both the world at large and to the public image of Unity. Once again, GIN-GR was the “secret weapon” called upon to help take down the enemy, but it was refreshing to see that her contribution was not weaponry and damage but “disarmament” by compassion. I love that robot.

And what of the Unity team? They were exhausted before confronting Malgam, who handily beat them down. Kindt injects H.A.R.D. Corps leader Charlie Palmer as a narrator, and it is through him that we are made aware that this team is on the edge of unraveling if they don’t get a break as they have been through a lot in a short amount of time. There’s a parallel here between Malgam and the Unity team – they are all weary and in need of a break from their routine.

This was a solid book, with the interaction between Malgam and GIN-GR being my favorite. Still, I felt a smidge let down by the battle. Based off of the previous issues, I was expecting an intense, dramatically-scaled battle against multiple adversaries. Instead we got a very personal but no less physically painful confrontation against someone who is better described as a “hostile”. He wanted to be left alone, he wasn’t seeking a fight. And maybe that’s the point – the hardest battles can be with yourself. Each of the team members are facing their own personal battles outside of Unity.

Pere Perez does a great job of moving the story along and making the characters act. You can just feel the attitude rolling off of them as they ignore Charlie Palmer’s attempt to lead them. His facial expressions were also on point. Malgam’s eyes as he asked GIN-GR is she was “with them” was heart-warming. David Baron’s bright color scheme adds to the pop and excitement of the team in battle in the desert heat. It makes a nice contrast to the relaxing, cool blue tones that are used to indicate Malgam’s relaxation and comfort within GIN-GR.

The preview for the next issue, Warmonger, was a bit disturbing. Looking forward to another interesting read by Kindt and company.

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