After the last arc of Unity I was really looking forward to this issue. After all there were four issues of fantastic writing and art that elevated this team book to a new standard. Instantly when I saw four artists working on the issue I got that bottoming out feeling in the pit of my stomach. Then I opened the issue and saw by for the most awkward art to grace the series. The strange thing is that the rest of the art (which is flashbacks of course) is really fucking good. But the art for what’s supposed to be the main story… not a good fit.
The story is easy to sum up. A new character/antagonist is introduced and for some reason she goes all bond villain and explains her entire life. She’s basically half demon (or a demon/fallen angel shit? Not joking) and so she’s yet another character that’s been alive forever in the Valiant U. The point of her story is that anytime do-gooders band together they eventually come after her so instead of waiting for Unity to catch a whiff of her she’s going after them one at a time to take them down. First is Ninjak and if you thought he was cool and a total bad ass that’s completely shattered in this issue.
The character, War-Monger, is terrible. I see what Matt Kindt was trying to do. He’s trying to make a character that you love to hate, but the problem is that I only hate this character. Part of it is that she swears constantly, but because it’s all censored it gets really annoying. That and she’s just an unlikable annoying character. Again, I know he was partially going for that.
If he wasn’t, and he was going for just an unlikable character that talks like most of the people in my generation (ie swearing every other word) then he succeeded. The problem then is that when a character is unlikable it makes you turn away from the story. In fact, I don’t know if I even care to finish this arc because I dislike her so damn much. It’s not the swearing either, but really the lack of it. I swear and I don’t find it intolerable in comics when characters swear, but it really isn’t the same. It’s hard to capture the flair of swearing out loud with the printed word. Something about it just doesn’t work unless your Garth Ennis because that man makes it work. The trick I find is that you have to pull back and not have them actually swear every other word. It’s less realistic, but it comes across the same… at least in my opinion.
So for once Kindt was a miss with me. The general idea of the character is interesting and I’m not opposed to the story line, outside of the fact that Ninjak is handled as easily as taking out the trash, but the overall idea of it is okay. The character’s personality is really what gets in the way of everything. Again, she’s not a character you love to hate, you just end up hating her.
As I said about the art, the main art is awkward. Not just because it transitions to what I feel is better and more polished artwork, but because it’s probably the least polished of the series. There’s no personality to it other than thick and often times extra line work. Since the main story art takes place in one setting it also becomes apparent that backgrounds and details to that setting are not their strong suit. Frankly I’m not really sure who did what on this issue so I’m not going to guess and possible mis-credit the artist.
The other artwork is not only in line with the rest of the series, but it’s actually pretty damn beautiful. The only problem being that it intercuts with the other art which makes for jarring transitions. Because of this I would say the overall art direction is poor. No matter how good the backstory art is, when it’s being cut between a style that is very different in terms of design and coloring, it makes for a poor visual narrative. The main thing being that you know it’s not going to stick around and so you write it off as background noise rather than being really talented, polished and attractive art.
I will probably thumb through the next issue and see if it’s about the same as this issue. If it is, then I’ll just wait until the next story arc which is one of the good things about the structure of this series. Each arc is in a way its own series; the numbering just continues. This issue was all over the place and while I’m giving it a pretty low score, just know that I would still rate this book and series higher than anything I’ve read from Marvel or DC recently, just so you have some context and comparison. Maybe next month will be better, maybe others will enjoy War-Monger, but I highly doubt either of those two things given what this issue had to offer.
Unity #19 Writer: Matt Kindt Artists: Jose Luis, Sandro Ribeiro, Alisson Rodrigues, Jefte Palo Colorist: Andrew Dalhouse Publisher: Valiant Comics Price: $3.99 Release Date: 6/10/15 Format: Ongoing; Print/Digital