What Did I Learn?
Today, we’ll review Unity by Fluffy, a long form science fiction comic.
The name Unity is taken from the name of the star ship that the characters (and population) find themselves on. Most of them really have no idea what’s outside Unity or how long the ship has been on its journey. I even daresay that most of them don’t know what is really going on inside Unity, either. It’s run by scientists who follow their own agendas.
The main character is named Juni (Juni Melrose,) who awakens with amnesia here. Juni was involved in an accident and is somehow heavily involved in the operation of Unity. Juni is a highly ranked scientist with the official title of Organeer First Class but things are not all they seem on the surface.
Interestingly, Juni behaves in a feminine manner and seems to take on the feminine social role. Apparently, before the amnesia, Juni’s preference was to be referred to as gender nuetral, or ‘it.’
Anyway, that little distraction is part and parcel of what you can expect from Unity. Nothing is as simple as it seems at first. You see, it wasn’t just an accident that befell Juni and no one is giving Juni any details. Even Sam Roarke, who is Juni’s bodyguard/love interest seems to keep Juni at arm’s length and in the dark. He doesn’t seem all bad, though – but later on he lactates – which made me question his gender. I checked the cast page, which does confirms it but he actually explains in the comic itself shortly after the scene in question. Very little is what it seems, indeed.
Continuing on the same theme, the linework of Unity misleads your perception,too. It has a sketch quality that causes you to overlook different perspective shots, good depth cues and well constructed alien body types. It also has interesting use of word balloons.
Each character has their own speech font and Juni even has her own thought balloon font. Different languages have their own colors, too. To let you know who is speaking, some characters even have their own balloon shapes and you can see partially through them, as well. They often overlap when multiple people are talking over one another. It adds some conversation confusion nicely, since the text beneath each balloon still gives the mental impression of voices behind voices.
To approach Unity as reader, it helps if you think of it like a story told out of order and each scene impacts the whole. Even though that’s technically inaccurate, you are supposed to be uncertain about the overall storyline until you’ve read into early 2009’s comics – at least I was. There’s a huge amount of layered depth in the Unity world, from the backwoods to Tamu’s de facto government with plenty of questions left yet unanswered and some things yet to even ask. How many versions of Juni exist? Is Juni even the real Juni? Will the inhabitants of Unity ever see any unity?
There is also a neat little feature under each comic where the transcript pops up when you mouse over it. Sometimes it also shows you the translation of what is said in an indecipherable alien language in the comic itself.
What Did I Learn?
With the depth of the Unity storyline being revealed in scenes, it allowed the advancement of mini stories within the larger story arc context. Further, it provided a much better and entertaining way to communicate all the background details of character and setting than simply listing these things encyclopedia style. Also, taking old techniques like special shaped word balloons and creatively expanding on them can add to what they offer the reader.
When you start reading Unity, make sure you start from the beginning. Please note that while the storyline progresses, there are other mini comic diversions sprinkled throughout.