ADVANCE PREVIEW: Valiant gets bold with UNITY
UNITY #1 (Valiant, November 2013) Matt Kindt, writer. Doug Braithwaite, artist.
If you are one of the few readers who still haven’t sampled a Valiant book, then UNITY represents the “perfect entry point” into one of the most cohesive and interesting comics universes that your hard-earned dollars can help support. The first issue debuts this Wednesday, November 13, and offers 40 pages of good reasons to validate your decision to investigate further.
There’s also no need to spend time reading back issues in order to understand what is happening in the book. The back side of the cover offers six short panels with symbolic designs that summarize Aric’s origins (from X-O MANOWAR) and outline the present conflict (from both X-O MANOWAR and HARBINGER). That brings readers up to speed so that they can jump right into the new story beginning on Page One. (Of course, there are trade paperback editions available for those who decide they want more details of those back-stories.)
In short, the X-O MANOWAR is a suit of alien armor and remarkable powers that is presently bonded to a fifth-century Visigoth warrior who has been transported to present-day Earth. He yearns to return to his homeland of Dacia, now known as Romania, and uses his powers to take over that country. That situation concerns all global governments who feel threatened by the new ruler. In the United States a mental manipulator of vast resources known as Toyo Harada sees Aric (X-O Manowar) as a challenge to his plans of reshaping and modifying the world economy. He uses the resources of the HARBINGER Foundation (which he heads) to form a super-team to defeat Aric and re-occupy Romania.
The first seven pages of UNITY give us an initial overview of the battle over Bercini, Romania as seen through the eyes of a photo-journalist. When Harada learns of Russia’s plan to retaliate with nuclear weapons (and hang the global consequences) he decides to intervene. Utilizing some older military strategy obtained through consultation with Gilad (THE ETERNAL WARRIOR), the plan is put in motion.
While the first-ever Valiant super team makes a direct frontal assault on X-O, Harada employs NINJAK to use a back-door plan to infiltrate and attempt to shut down the alien spaceship that doubles as armored fortress. Will the plan work? We certainly aren’t going to try and spoil it for you. Words alone can’t do it justice - - that’s why there are pictures as well. Braithwaite’s art is very dynamic and helps move the story along at a rapid clip, abetted by the use of several diagonally-shaped panels. Readers can assume that the announcement of UNITY Issue #2 and #3 in the coming months certainly would seem to indicate that there is much more story to unfold. Harada’s opening move seems more like a feint (to borrow a word from the photo-journalist used in the opening pages). We recommend this series to all fans that love high adventure combined with solid story-telling.
Per their press release, Valiant has announced that UNITY #1 has initial orders of more than 68.500 copies, “cementing its status as one of 2013’s highest selling new series debuts.” (Editor’s Notes: That achievement was surely helped in part by Valiant’s generous 100% buyback policy on Issue #1 offered to comics retailers.)
Valiant has also announced that the subsequent two issues of UNITY’s first story arc - - December’s UNITY #2 and January’s UNITY #3 – will be 100% returnable for retailers who match or exceed 50% of their orders for UNITY #1.
Based on pre-orders alone, “UNITY #1 has already outranked other recent success stories including EAST OF WEST #1, HAWKEYE #1, LAZARUS #1, MANHATAN PROJECTS #1, PRETTY DEADLY #1, SAGA #1, SATELLITE SAM #1, SEX CRIMINALS #1, TEN GRAND #1, TRILLIUM #1, VELVET #1, THE WAKE #1, and the list goes on, “ said Valiant Sales Manager Atom! Freeman. “That’s incredible company to keep, and all of us at Valiant would like to thank the fans and our retail partners for their confidence and support. UNITY #1 is a major milestone for us as a publishers and our biggest launch to date. The sales figure only affirms that big things are on the horizon for this series, and that Valiant isn’t slowing down one iota.”