Staff: Melchizedek Todd
An honest to God solid Christian multi-publisher crossover.
Ok so today I am going to do something a little different. I normally review only Issue #1s but today I am going to take a look at “The United” which, while technically a #1, is actually a mega crossover event between 10 Christian themed superheroes. I am totally in support of Indie crossovers and I was very excited to come across this one. For better or for worse- I am going to check out The United #1. Let’s give it a look.
Lettering & Layout
The layout is very reader friendly- as a 10 character crossover has to be. We have a character page with headshots and names of all the characters and when we are introduced to them we are given a small blurb about their abilities. This is helpful and not super intrusive.
The lettering is not fantastic. The introduction uses some very stock fonts in big, poorly laid out, exposition blocks. In panel the lettering is odd. Sometimes it is stretched or warped oddly but you can read it without issue.
The art style is very stroke-heavy and is something I’d more expect to see in a horror comic but it is very detailed and it works. Someone obviously put a lot of love into the art for this comic and it shows. There are some anatomical oddities and inconsistencies but overall it’s fluid and is more a stylistic thing than anything. My only other real complaint is that due to the high contract and stroke-heavy nature of the art sometimes it is a little hard to follow if there is a large number of characters on the page. While not on the professional level- it isn’t a bad attempt and every scene has a plethora of “things” going on (as opposed to the empty background a lot of indie comics have).
What we get out of this comic is a good old-fashioned superhero beatdown. I was skeptical of this comic until about page 7 because that page features a whole host (see what I did there? pun pun) of heroes just beating the living hell (I got a million of these) out of some robots on a beautifully done splash-page. THIS is what crossover comics are about.
In short, they have all been summoned by what is essentially the Devil (who has a rather fun and unique character design). A lot of Christian comics I have reviewed in the past were very preachy and (pardon the pun) black and white about morality. “God is good” is the only message we get and we are never introduced to the complexities of matters of morality and faith. I’m not religious and that always put me off about them. This comic doesn’t do that however. Right off the bat we are given some very valid reasons as to why God is a jerk by the antagonist. He talks about how God turns his back on the weak, punishes the innocent, and is wrathful at seemingly random times. While we (as readers) and the heroes are never going to side with the Devil on this one- this is a legitimate test of faith for the characters. We get some good back and forth from these characters and they show their devotion in their own way. Some quote biblical passages, some are silent, and some show their colors by simply quipping back but no one falters in their faith. A scumbag even calls them, “super-powered Jesus freaks” and that shows that the writer is not afraid to address the absurdity of the premise within the context of the real world. It makes it more believable and human- something a lot of superhero comics lack.
If there is a weakness to this comic- it is the overall plot. We have a bunch of kind of directionless plot threads that are just kind of thrown at us. They are fun visually but we aren’t made privy to exactly why some things are happening or what their overall goal is. Honestly- I wasn’t looking for Les Miserables from a massive crossover book but it would have been nice to see a more coherent story put together all the same.
Overall- this comic defied my expectations. I expected to get a moralizing yuppy Christian book with a bunch of, as the comic puts it, “superpowered Jesus freaks” but what I got was a lot of fun. It was a fast paced beat ‘em up with more characters than I could shake a stick at. It wasn’t overly long and while the overall direction was a bit messy it had a very good approach to the whole concept. Give it a read.