Coming off of a major publisher-wide event is enough for some publishers to justify the relaunch of a title, but Matt Kindt and CAFU take a more old-school approach with "Unity" #12. Despite being a young title, there have been plenty of issues that have served as a convenient access point to the Valiant Universe, but Kindt makes sure this one especially won't leave brand new readers asking a lot of questions. There's a lengthy recap leading off the issue, which not only brings newbies up to speed but is also a concisely told summary of the events of the past year.
Cover artist Brian Level gives old and new audiences alike a symbolic taste of what's inside, with homage to veteran artist George Perez. His cover is a classic-style composition showing the Unity team battling a new super-group that's introduced in this issue, complete with inset headshots of the various characters involved. There's no such battle within, but the cover's image evokes a more general representation of the feel of the book more so than the actual events. Kindt brings out a feel not unlike a classic Stan Lee or Roy Thomas issue of "The Avengers;" the team is undertaking its first roster change, and the potential candidates are just about every available character in the Valiant Universe.
CAFU, in fact, puts together an impressive illustration showing the nearly twenty individuals that are under consideration. It's the kind of composition that will have twelve-year-olds of all ages studying and scrutinizing with fascination. It's not only the familiar characters that CAFU so skillfully composes, though; the villains are introduced in a very well-paced manner, starting off slowly and suspensefully with The Myth and then following with others being brought onboard with gradually increasing tempo. CAFU uses similarly laid out panels with subtle shifts in distance or perspective to establish the timing for Kindt's script. During the initial recap sequence, CAFU uses Livewire as the central figure for these scenes, gradually panning back and revealing more of the surroundings in a perfectly laid out act that extends for several pages.
Kindt keys off a few more elements that give the issue its retro vibe; there's a kind of Cold War flavor to the story's conflict, and the limited number of characters is evocative of the Marvel Universe in its formative years. Plus, the story is just flat out fun; it's serious, but not depressingly so, and it leaves plenty of room for lightheartedness. One scene between Ninjak and the team's new member is genuinely funny, while still serving as a dramatic and worthy introduction of Unity's latest addition.
"Unity" #12 is terrific on many fronts; it welcomes readers with open arms, makes them feel comfortable when they get there, and delivers a fun story with nods to the past that fits right in with the present day context of the title.