Comical Musings

Tag: Busybee

Review: Unity

by on Dec.21, 2009, under Review

I have something of a soft spot for science fiction. Some of this might be that I grew up reading “the good stuff”—my dad has an extensive collection of Asimov, Niven, Card, Heinlein, Clarke, and others, so I had a pretty steady supply of sci-fi as long as I could get past the bats in the attic. As a result, I managed to avoid the brunt of Sturgeon’s Law, and the tales of the improbable hold a special place in the stacks of my heart, on the other end of the room from the works of Frances Hodgson Burnett and just past the shelf of O. Henry.

So I was intrigued when a cartoonist named fluffy submitted her* comic, Unity, for review. When a comic starts with a purple-skinned amnesiac thinking in a computer font, you know that what will follow is either science fiction or ergotism. Or, as the case is for fluffy, synaesthesia. (A certain amount of this information is what I’m picking up from the “easter eggs” to be found throughout the comics; a lot of webcomic artists enjoy hiding bonus commentary in the alt-text of their comic images. This can be entertaining or frustrating, depending on how much text is suddenly revealed when you hover your mouse.)

The art of Unity is somewhat variable. At times, there are highly detailed character shots and backgrounds; at others, plucked emus in footie pajamas. From a print publishing standpoint, I’m intrigued by the choice for different characters to speak in different typefaces—a good way to differentiate between characters speaking, but sometimes irritating.

There is a lot of nudity, but when the nudity involves beings descended from the common platypus, there’s not much to be seen (no mammaries, no external privates). Sexuality does crop up a lot in Unity, however. Main character Juni is the neutered virgin-birth clone daughter of a lesbian witch-doctor, while her partner, Sam, is female in anatomy but male in pronoun. This becomes something of a plot hook, as it becomes revealed later that many members of Juni’s species are treated as prostitutes outside of their native lands.

It seems that Juni’s people, being electrically sensitive like their distant forebears, have the potential to recover the information left behind by the ancient creatures who created their world, if only they weren’t so primitive a culture. But it takes a lot of confusion, plotting, counter-plotting, and murder to figure all this out from square one. I have to hand it to fluffy for managing to tie so many baffling story threads into a coherent plot, in spite of the number of interruptions and random art pieces that get thrown in.

One final note: the animated 404 error page is strangely hilarious.

Comic Rating: Three or four recipes I kinda want to try now.

* Fluffy is a bit of an enigma. To my knowledge, fluffy prefers a gender-neutral pronoun, as does the protagonist of Unity. The trouble in this is that it gets hard to differentiate between an it referring to the comic, an it referring to the main character, and an it referring to the cartoonist. In the interest of clarity, then, and because fluffy appears as a human with breasts and a skirt in some of the early journal comics, I will be using her to denote the cartoonist. I offer my apologies to the alternate-gender community, as well as to the American Usage professor who tried to teach me inclusive language.**

**Though even she balked at the use of sie, hir, or coe as pronouns.

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