The Uniques vol. 1: Come Together (#1 – 4) – Comfort Love and Adam Withers

3 out of 5

The JLA are dead!  …And their children carry on.  The set up for The Uniques – the collective name of the title’s in-universe super-powered chracters – isn’t, natch, unique itself, drawing from various comic frameworks and plot points to give us seven varyingly-powered and -tempered youths, coming together in the wake of a world-changing event that effectively wiped out the majority of the premiere powered folk.  But uniqueness never seemed to be the exact goal of creators Comfort Love and Adam Withers, so much as crafting an engaging comic with believable (in context) characters.  Sounds simple?  It should be, and sure, plenty of folk out there are producing Comics that are Comics first over hefty narratives or soul-plumbing concepts, but there’s almost always an eventual distraction from that.  Writers like Mark Waid, commonly renowned for inserting fun back into titles like Daredevil, is are inherently Big Two writers, and can’t help twisting their fun up with soap opera camp, overwrought reveals, and crossover / tie-in potential.  In the indie school, publishers like current Image may offer a lot of “pure” comics, but in a need to differentiate oneself, the creators of these comics like to drop in quirky hooks that are effectively just dusting the surface of their books with faux gold dust.  And then they get obsessed with the glimmer as though it were meaningful…

So making it entertaining – strictly entertaining – and maintaining that is hard.  The first four issues of The Unique run the “getting the band together” routine of conflicting personalities and newbie flubs, building up to some wins and successful teamwork.  As the leads are youngsters, we’re not devoid of petty squabbles, but here’s where there’s something to be said for non-censorship: Love and Withers make these characters fully fleshed out and real by having them act and speak (to my ear) true enough to their age.  They swear, they sex, they drink, but it’s not baiting NC-17, nor is it moderated for a PG-13.  It’s just natural.  That goes an amazingly long way: I never got caught up on dialogue or motivations; no one is wholly groovy or dumb or smart or whatever, and they’re all skilled and learning at the same time.  Does it do anything new plotwise?  Nope, not at all.  But for every moment that I worried it was going to turn into teenage drama, The Uniques’ creators would steer me back into comic book territory, with heroes and villains and a grounded, immersive world.  And so I turned the page and kept reading.