Pullbox Reviews: The Uniques- a Self-published indie gem that hits every mark of excellence…

The year is 1996, and Uniques – people born with incredible powers – have changed the world. In the wake of a horrible disaster, seven teenagers step forward to take up the torch carried by generations past and try to find their own voices and chart their own path in a world where the super is common but heroes are not. From the minds of 6-time Harvey Award nominated husband-and- wife creators Comfort Love and Adam Withers, The Uniques is a superhero story about growth and becoming, following the course of seven characters’ lives as they change the world and the world changes them.

I’ve got kind of a “good news/bad news” thing for you guys… Every now and again, I run across a comic that fires on all cylinders for me. When that happens, I get a little obsessive about it and tend to ramble on a bit. After my wife tells me to shut the hell up about and go to sleep or it’s couch time for me, I figured it was about time to start putting fingers to keyboard. So buckle up and settle in, people, cuz I got words.

The world of The Uniques is a fantastic mix of the familiar & new, blending easily recognizable comicbook elements with original insights on old tropes. The focus of the series, rather than being on action-packed battles & super heroics, is on the relationships of the many, many (so many) characters. Not to say that there isn’t action, or that it isn’t extremely well done, cuz there’s a lot of it & it is amazing, but from start to finish, “season one” of this title is all about the people who populate it.

Let’s meet a few of those people…

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Leading the core teen team of the series is Hope “Telepath” Sage, daughter of legendary psions Mentor & Kinetic. She’s a determined young lady destined for greatness… if she can get past the trauma of being psychically linked to her parents when they were killed. Waking up from a coma after two years, she’s got a lot of catching up to do. As the last living psion and with a legacy to live up to, Hope is always struggling to walk the path of the hero.

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The heart of the group is Nikki “Motherboard” Carter, a “typic” with no powers aside from her genius in the world of computers. Her lack of powers is no handicap, as Nikki is probably the most emotionally mature and self aware of the group. Oh, and she’s an avid rpg player, getting together with her gaming group whenever she can get away from her work for the team.

Scout Bio Page

Scout is a sidekick looking for a life outside of his work with the mysterious vigilante known as Ghost, constantly trying to fit the two lives side by side. So concerned with hanging on to his life with his new team, he has yet to reveal his identity to them. That sounds like a young man trying to keep his distance, but that’s just about as far from the truth as it could be.

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Jason “Singe” Klyne is outwardly as two-dimensional a figure as you could imagine, but he’s probably one of the more interesting characters in the book. It took some time for him to develop an immunity to his own power over flame, and as a result he suffered severe burning to his hands. Now he’s never seen without his gloves, ashamed to let anyone else see the horrific scarring. Emotionally, Jason tries to present a tough front to the world, all inappropriate cursing (seriously, he’s not really good at it), smoking, & underage drinking. In truth he wants a home, somewhere to belong, more than anything else.

These are only a handful of the characters in this title, and each one of them would be deserving a full article devoted solely to them. What makes them unique apart from their powers is that their creators, Comfort & Adam, have taken great pains to bring every character to life in their minds. Reading some of the couple’s commentary, populating their work with living, breathing people was a top priority from day one.

So aside from cool characters, what else does The Uniques have going for it? One of the interesting things about the creative team is that they’re both front and center for every aspect of the work: writing, illustrating, & lettering is handled equally across the board. When one proves to have a better handle on one specific character or another, Comfort & Adam split the duties accordingly and play to their individual strengths. Not being total overachievers, once their illustrations are complete, they do hand the work off to a talented group of colorists to handle the shading & flatting.

The attention to detail shown in these books is astonishing to me, and another of the highlights in an already outstanding book. One example is in the first issue, as Hope is waking up from her coma and fights to escape what she believes is a nefarious captivity. Leaping into action to fight off wave after wave of enemies, she soon realizes that she’s wearing a medical gown and nothing else. It’s at this point that I need to point out the visual cue of Hope’s power in use:

See that pink glow? That’s Hope’s telekinesis in action, and she uses it pretty extensively over the next few pages. I laughed out loud when I realized that there was a tiny bit of that glow at the back of her gown… Hope is enough of a lady that even when fighting for her life, using her telekinesis to augment her weakened muscles after two years comatose, she still has the presence of mind to mentally hold her gown closed in the back.

My praise for Comfort & Adam’s illustrations goes on for days, but eventually I’m gonna have to move on to the writing. I don’t say that to mean that the writing takes any kind of back seat to the art. My reluctance to get to it comes down to the fact that there’s just so damn much to talk about. With the realization that this dynamic duo has been around a while and is no flash in the pan pair of comic book creating rookies, it shouldn’t really be a surprise that they’re really good at their jobs. My surprise and admiration comes from that they’re still devoted to self-publishing, and that they haven’t been snatched up by one of the larger publishers.

First, I’m going to gush about the dialogue for a minute. My tens of readers know that I hold well written dialogue up as the Holy Grail of comics. It’s one of the toughest parts of writing, getting characters to sound like regular folk, talking like people talk. The dialogue in The Uniques is some of the best I’ve ever had the pleasure to read. It just… flows, man, and each person in the series speaks in their own unique voice. Having read the first ten issues in a fairly short amount of time, I can say that the continuity between personalities was a pleasure to read.

Another very cool thing to see in this story is that unlike most superhero comics, the action takes a backseat to the characters. Too often, conversations & character play are just used to get the readers to the next action scene. Not so here, where the action is actually used as a backdrop to what’s happening with the characters. The people in this book are just kinda cool to hang out with, following along as they try to figure out how they’re going to fit together as a team and as a group of friends. A family full of misfits, ne’er-do-wells, idealists, & sidekicks- all wanting to be their best selves… standing on their own, together.

I’ve ranted, rambled, & raved enough, I think. Pretty soon, someone’s gonna accuse me of being on Comfort & Adam’s payroll. I’m just going to say that I love this book enough to hold it in my Top 10 indie titles, a book that I’m more than happy to own and display on my bookshelf. I’d call it a perfect book for teens and up, anyone not damaged by some strong language (in case you’re not aware, teenagers swear… a LOT), violence, and use of tobacco & alcohol.

Final Score: 10+

So, because I’ve talked a lot, I figured I’d leave you with an awesome cover gallery… some of the best comic covers I’ve seen a while, each giving just the barest of tips to what’s happening in the issue. Oh, and pay attention to the tributes.

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  1. Beautiful work….perfect!

    1. It really is… The only issue I have with this title is that it isn’t more widely known & recognized for the outstanding comic that it is.

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