Written by: Laura Hong-Tuason, CC2K Comics Editor
You know, I always enjoy stories about smooth, competent government agents in suits saving the world. Oops, did I say smooth and competent? I meant inept and hilarious. Fortunately for me (and you), these are the types of agents you’ll find in Unit 44 #1, published by Alterna Comics.
Story & Letters: Wes Locher
Illustrations & Colors: Eduardo Jiménez
Unit 44 imagines a scenario in which the U.S. government’s greatest secrets are locked in a storage unit. What kind of secrets you ask? Oh, just the conspiracy theories surrounding Area 51 like UFOs and aliens. But what if I told you they weren’t conspiracy theories at all? That aliens do exist and all evidence of them had actually been locked up in an off-site storage unit a little ways off from Area 51? Well it used to be anyways, until some government agents working at Area 51 forgot to pay the rent on the facility’s storage unit, leaving the secret contents to be sold to a pair of rednecks at a public auction. Crazy right? This is the concept writer Wes Locher explores in his latest comic and it is absolutely fantastic!
This first issue of Unit 44 doesn’t cover anything new that we didn’t already know. However, it is Locher’s execution of the story and characters that hits it on the nail. Agent Hatch and Agent Gibson are the unfortunate employees who lose the contents in storage unit 44. They are the ones who must track the contents down, lest they want to face their boss’s wrath. It is remarkable how in just a few pages, Agent Hatch and Gibson become such likeable characters. Hatch is supposedly the serious, astute one while Gibson is carefree and irresponsible. Their dynamic is genuinely comical and their dialogue never feels forced. That is, the jokes in the comic aren’t obnoxious, cueing in readers with an overly large sign on when to laugh; rather the jokes are sincerely witty, silly, and stand on their own two feet.
However, the jokes would not land as well without the art of Eduardo Jiménez, which is topnotch. It is fun and lighthearted. Each panel is full of vibrant colors and the pages burst with positive energy because that’s what Unit 44 is all about. It is downright silly and amusing. Jiménez does not skimp out on the details. His characters and settings are all very expressive. Without Agent Hatch’s well-executed stern mannerisms, his outbursts wouldn’t be as funny. Without Agent Gibson’s cunning grin, his dumbfounded look after something backfires would not be as rewarding. Jiménez’s art greatly complements Locher’s writing, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
As a whole, Unit 44 reminds me of the witty and charming cartoons I grew up with in the 90s. In fact, both story and art got me very nostalgic. While reading Unit 44, I could practically see the panels reeling away like a cartoon. If this were a show, I’d watch it! The comic is definitely a fresh of breath air from the dark dystopian comics we see today or the never-ending crossover events involving iconic superheroes. Anyone can just pick up a copy of Unit 44 after a long, perhaps bad, day and get a feel good laugh. As Locher writes, “[C]onspiracy theories are fun… why should a story about one be any different?”
Unit 44 #1 is out today and is available as a monthly (March-June) digital-first book through ComiXology. You can also get it at www.unit44comic.com. Jump on this 4-issue miniseries now and follow @weslocher and @Eduar_Art on Twitter.
5.0 out of 5.0
Author: Laura Hong-Tuason, CC2K Comics Editor
Laura is a writer from the San Francisco Bay Area, but currently resides in Southern California. She drinks too much milk tea, talks too much about Green Lantern, and would marry Barry Allen if he were real.