Tuesday, April 5, 2016


"Creating Unity"
WRITER: Barbara Kesel
PENCILER: Curt Swan, Kerry Gammill, Paris Cullins
INKER:  John Statem, Charles Barnette III, Bob Lewis
COLORIST: Michael Thomas
LETTERER: John Costanza

Within the timestream, Waverider ponders his mission to discover Monarch's identity. He waxes metaphysical, but essentially gives readers the "needle in a haystack" analogy.  Focusing on Hank Hall (Hawk) he notices similarities between Hawk's anger issues and Monarch's wrath.  After reminding readers what his entire mission is, Waverider touches Hawk and begins to explore another possible future.

Ten years in the future, Waverider's eyes open on a scene where Peacekeepers are trying to bring Hank Hall in to speak with their captain. Peacekeepers?! This future is the most similar to Waverider's own time of all the futures he has witnessed yet. Although it appears Hank isn't Monarch in this world. He seems to be a former Peacekeeper who has seen the light of what Monarch's brand of order is like.  As the Peacekeepers prepare to deal with Hank once and for all, he manages to say "Hawk" and transform into a hero once more.

As Hawk takes care of the guards and smashes his way free, we learn that he is one of the few, if not the only, metahuman left after Monarch had them all killed, including Dove.  Hawk escapes the building only to encounter Monarch in the streets.  Amid a verbal back and forth, Hawk tells that he has been learning more about his powers during his years in hiding and transforms himself into a giant dragon-like monster, acting as a full avatar of Chaos.

The two battle it out with Hawk somehow managing to shrug off some of Monarch's energy blasts.  But just when it looks like Hawk may actually get revenge for the deaths of the other heroes Monarch manages to turn to tide. As Monarch prepares the killing blow, Hawk disappears into another world and speaks to someone standing just off-panel who he addresses as partner. They determine that they shall have to find a way to bring Monarch to them and fight on a plane where they set the rules.

Back in the present Dove (Dawn) sees Hawk standing in a daze.  She snaps him out of it and says that she could almost sense another person.  Waverider, remembering that Monarch might not necessarily be male, looks into Dove's future as well.  Unlike all the others, Dove somehow is able to fight Waverider's abilities.  As a champion of Order, Dove resists the chaos that is Waverider's time vision. However, he convinces her to let him see her future to try and determine that she is indeed not Monarch.

Ten years in the future, a council sits and discusses what to do about Monarch's domination of Earth.  Dove is one of the members and the only one human. Suggestions including ignoring Monarch and mating with him, but Dove insists her world needs to be saved from Monarch.

Back in mid-vision, Dove insists that by Waverider skimming all these realities he is actually disturbing "the order of events."  It is time for Dove to use Waverider's abilities against him and view his own past in the future.  We see flashbacks to the events of Armageddon 2001 #1 concerning Waverider's origin and personal past as Matthew Ryder.  He regains control of himself and his powers and looks again into Dove's future.

Dove, before encountering Monarch, visits a crystal crypt where Hawk is interred. She turns to be greeted by her child, who runs to her.  In the span of a few panels the child changes both appearance and gender multiple times, as well as Dove's costume changing.  Is this some form of Chaos or simply the variation in possibly futures?  As Waverider attempts to view more about the child, present-day Dove once again takes control and insists that she will show Waverider her role in his future.

Cut to an encounter in the streets between Dove and Monarch, similar to the one we saw earlier with Hawk.  Monarch insists on knowing where the child is, who he calls Dove's son.  Dove breaks away and flies off. Monarch sends his Peacekeepers to follow her, but she tricks them and manages to ambush them.  She meets back up with her friends and informs the one named Sal that Monarch knows.  They send Hank and Ren ahead to lunch while the two talk.  She tells Sal to keep her son safe.  At the elevator, Hank and Dawn push Sal and Ren aside so they can keep the two innocents safe as they go to fight Monarch alone.  As Peacekeepers approach them, the two change into Hawk and Dove and prepare for action.

Waverider determines that the two always fought Monarch, but didn't become him.  However, he senses a third possibility. Not Order or Chaos alone, but what about the two forces combined?

Cut to another alternate future, this time with a young woman in a medical uniform running into a smashed shop to see a badly injured  man.  We come to find out her name is Dr. Arsala.  Barter, the injured man, tells her it is time she learned about her past. He informs her that she is the daughter of Hawk and Dove and that she also has access to a magic word which will grant her power.  He gives her totems of both Order and Chaos.  He also gives her a penny and tells her to remember "unity" before her dies in her arms.

Dr. Arsala returns to work at the hospital, pondering Barter's words.  There is a trauma case that has been brought in and she is assigned to help.  In surgery, Dr. Arsala performs almost miraculous work.  Unknown to her, Monarch is watching he closely as her patient in wanted for questioning.  She speaks very curtly toward him and he says to add her to his watch list, as well as thinking that she may be a metahuman.

When she returns home, Dr. Arsala confronts her adoptive father about her past, which he confirms. He tells her that Dawn only ever had to say her magic word to change. She mutters something about "remember unity" while holding the objects and the power finally manifests within her.  She transforms into a cross between Hawk and Dove, an avatar of both Order and Chaos in one being.  Just then the Peacekeepers arrive to bring her to Monarch. After a small scuffle Unity complies because the Peacekeepers threaten her father.

Unity shows Monarch her strength, but instead of fighting she tries to persuade Monarch to see her as an ally, somebody who can assist him in his rule.  Unity uses a combination of tactics both physical and verbal to persuade Monarch, finally saying that she will perform brain surgery to help him see her world view.

Waverider believes that Unity's influence upon Monarch could help bring about a Golden Age in his world, but only if Hawk and Dove can manage to stay together and produce such a child in their's.

MY THOUGHTS:  Wow.  We're back to Waverider's quest with much less laughter involved this month.  And it shows, doesn't it?

First off, this is probably the densest story in the crossover yet.  Kesel brings us no less than three possible futures for our heroes, with variations flowing within those possible futures.  Many aspects of these futures are pretty bleak, though.  I mean, honestly, none of the 2001 futures are supposed to bright and happy.  We're talking about a guy trying to prevent a dystopia. The readers would feel cheated if one of the heroes' futures was a wonderland of fun and happiness.

It's very interesting to note some of Kesel's choices in the dialogue.  Of special interest is the part where Dove informs Waverider that mucking about trying to look through all these futures is actually disrupting the order of events in people's lives.  In other words, Waverider is essentially making some of these futures non-existant just by viewing them.  Nobody is actually being eliminated, as just by making contact with them he is altering their futures.

Dove being able to fight Waverider because her Order trumps his chaos is a delightful twist.  Something different for readers who had been keeping up with the crossover thusfar.

The art throughout is absolutely outstanding.  Some of the best seen since the first part of the crossover.  Swam, Gammill and Cullins all go out of their way to provide top-notch pencils while Thomas's colors really work to full effect here.  Waverider is back to his technicolor glory and his time abilities are once again shown to be bright against a dark background.  Very easy on the eyes but still able to leap off the page and let you feel a slight disorientation.

Unity's design and color scheme both being a meld of Hawk's and Dove's costumes was a fun touch.  Honestly, I wish DC had done something with this character in another Elseworlds or other alternate timeline story.  She would have been interesting to flesh out many years later in Multiversity or Convergence or similar events/crossovers.

This is actually one of the last issue I read initially, as I tracked down all the pieces years after the event.  The only parts that stood out to me then were that there were multiple takes and that Unity was a combination of their powers.  Reading it again now, I find the issue to be one of the better overall stories in this set.  Nowhere in the story does the pace falter enough to bore the reader and the art helps keep interest alive during exposition portions.  If I had to choose a complaint, it would be that perhaps the entire story should have been about Unity, but that would negate the point of Kesel's script--that Waverider is defeating his own purpose and hasn't even realized it yet.

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