Valiant Entertainment continues to reinvent the concepts developed by the original Valiant Comics over twenty years ago, this time grabbing the name of the old publisher’s most famous and popular event and reforming it into a new ongoing title, kicking off with “Unity” #1 by Matt Kindt and Doug Braithwaite. The characters and concepts featured in the new Valiant’s titles have largely been faithfully based on the originals, and that same kind of similarity is found in this first issue; it’s a crossover that keys off of events from the publisher’s other ongoing titles, not unlike the original “Unity,” although the title has a different meaning this time around, and it doesn’t come across as a blatant marketing stunt like the first one did.
This isn’t a line-wide story that impacts all of Valiant’s titles, at least not yet; there’s no all-star extravaganza, but the story doesn’t suffer for it. Kindt doesn’t dive into the pool of characters available to him, but instead wades in slowly, using recent events from “X-O Manowar” as a launch pad and bringing in characters from other titles sparingly, while introducing plenty of new ones as well. It doesn’t read like an “event” story, as some might presume it to be based on its name, but instead more like any other well-constructed comic book story that takes place in a bigger universe. Kindt’s story is aware of its surroundings, but doesn’t try to take readers on a dizzying sightseeing trip to try and see them all.
Kindt starts off the issue with a sequence establishing the scenario for the title with an engaging narrative that welcomes both existing readers and new ones alike; it’s informative for those new to Valiant without being redundant to those already onboard. A half dozen pages in, the stage is set as Kindt moves from setting up the threat to focusing on how it’s going to be dealt with, and who’s going to do the dealing. This second act develops a dynamic between two existing Valiant characters and several new ones, and halfway through Kindt has the story firmly under control. He gets a little careless in the next sequence, though, which features a slightly-lesser known character who isn’t identified nor shown in costume for the first few pages, and not definitively named for a few more. “X-O Manowar” readers shouldn’t have any problems, but everyone else will find themselves distracted until it’s clear who they’re actually reading about. That’s about the biggest mistake Kindt makes, though, and once things are cleared up it leads towards a somewhat surprising turn of events.
Braithwaite takes advantage of this issue’s thirty story pages, effectively using splash pages to introduce each character or team of characters when they first appear. He avoids the temptation to fill this extra-long story with an excessive number of such pages, and there’s not a single double-page spread, even in a couple of battle sequences which arguably might have justified them. Braithwaite makes sure it’s all about the overall story, not his art, which is attractive without calling a lot of attention to itself. He aptly moves the story along with mostly traditional panel layouts, quietly supporting Kindt’s story in between battle scenes but stretching his legs when the fighting gets started, making for a truly collaborative effort between the two creators.
“Unity” #1 for the most part succeeds at what it’s meant to do; it’s a simple, appealing, and accessible introduction to the Valiant Universe that welcomes new readers while entertaining existing ones, and starts to bring the four corners of this universe together, just as the original event did. It’s entertaining enough to pick up the next issue, and even makes a good case for trying out some of Valiant’s other titles, some of which are just as good if not better.