Two bumbling Area 51 agents forget to pay the rent on their storage unit and they have to retrieve the top-secret contents when they’re sold at a public auction.
THE CREATIVE TEAM
The Unit 44 series is written by Wes Locher. Wes Locher is a writer of journalism, prose, humor, comic books, and video games. Wes has written video games for developers such as Magic Tavern, Awem Games, Tales, Based on the Play, Nanobit Software, Pulsetense Games, and Pocket Gems Games. His comic books have been published in the U.S.A., U.K., and Canada by Alterna Comics, Titan Comics, Action Lab Entertainment, Markosia Enterprises, Arcana Studios, and many others.
His nonfiction work includes the collection of humorous essays, Musings on Minutiae, and the works of video games journalism, Braving Britannia: Tales of Life, Love, & Adventure in Ultima Online and Braving Britannia: Tales of Melancholy, Malice, & Peril in Ultima Online, which were been featured by outlets such as Wired, VentureBeat, Game Developer (formerly Gamasutra), and the TED Talks podcast Far Flung.
Issue 1 through issue 4 is illustrated by Ed Jimenez. Issues 5 and 6 are illustrated by Aleks Jovic, colored by Andrew Pate with cover art by Ed Jimenez. Issue 7 was illustrated by Landon Franklin, colored by Andrew Pate with cover art by Ed Jimenez.
The Unit 44 Alterna giant collects issues #1 through #4 of Unit 44. The book has 96 pages printed in newspaper format in full color with a very thin cover. The series is for ages 12+ and is a Sci-Fi comedy. Issue 5, 6, and 7 are 32-page floppy comic books printed in newspaper format in full color. And each issue is double-covered. The books were published by Alterna Comics in 2023.
Alterna Comics was founded in 2006 by publisher Peter Simeti and has gone on to help produce over 100 titles since then. Alterna has been home to a New York Times best-seller, FUBAR Empire of the Rising Dead (2012), and a film adaptation, The Chair (2017), and has gained attention for its modern newsprint initiative and affordable prices. Alterna Comics titles are distributed to readers and retailers worldwide from their online store.
Let’s dive into the stories of the Unit 44 series starting with the Alterna Giant covering issue 1 to issue 4.
Agent Gibson and Agent Hatch forget to pay the rent on the 51’s off-site storage unit, and the secret contents are sold at a public action. When an alien invasion threatens Earth, the agents will have to recover the unit’s contents if they have any hope of stopping the extraterrestrial threat. So, in other words, we’re pretty much doomed.
UNIT 44 ISSUE #5
The Blood Moon Cult has moved into town and its ranks are quickly filling up, forcing inept Area 51 Agents Gibson and Hatch to infiltrate the group to uncover the group’s secret plans.
UNIT 44 ISSUE #6
Bumbling Area 51 agents Gibson and Hatch accidentally activate a dangerous, top-secret device that sends them hurtling through the multiverse. Now, if they hope to see home again, they’ll have to survive a torrent of hazardous new worlds—and each other.
UNIT 44 ISSUE #7
Incompetent Area 51 agents Gibson and Hatch arrive in Point Pleasant, West Virginia to investigate a sighting of the famed Mothman. But while Agent Hatch is quick to brush off the case as a hoax, a close encounter with the cryptid changes his tune, forcing the pair to solve the mystery once and for all.
The stories were amazingly entertaining and the series offers the main tool to explore the Alterna Universe. The art style of the first 6 issues aligns with the comedic tone but I like the change in issue 7 to a more realistic depiction.
At first, I thought of the series as an iteration of Men in Black but they lean more towards the X files in some stories adding the comedic element.
With the first issue, you get an understanding of the world and the relationship between Agent Gibson and Agent Hatch. Both are incompetent agents who miraculously still have their job and somehow get things done. Even fighting an alien invasion.
UNIT 44 ISSUE #5
I enjoy their crazy adventures and the comedy kept me engaged especially with issue 5 which illustrated how a cult leader gets people hooked. I thought it was a very good way to show how cults are and makes you reflect how many cults exist in the real world that don’t necessarily have the cult clothing to identify them but they use the same tactics to get followers such as cults of politicians, celebrities and philanthropists.
UNIT 44 ISSUE #6
Issue 6 was a memorable one where the agents find a device that can transport them to multiverses and it has the special appearance of the Log from the “Legends of Log” series, and many other recognizable characters from Alterna.
UNIT 44 ISSUE #7
Issue 7 is so far my favorite. Like Agent Hatch, I also thought I was hallucinating. At first, I thought it was the Behemoth from King Cryptid, a MothMan-like creature who went through very horrific experimentations but then they refer to him as the MothMan. Later on, it was clear that it was a different case.
Maybe it wouldn’t have the same effect if I didn’t read King Cryptid first but it managed to keep me hooked to the story. I did feel sad for the Behemoth because MothMan got his freedom while the Behemoth is still trapped in its internal cell still looking for freedom. It reminds me of a saying that stayed with me after reading the story “Freedom can never be given, it can only be taken away. The time for diplomacy ends before it even begins.” And finally, I have to say that I loved the ending of issue 7, what a good story that was.
Issue 7 was part of the Alterna Comics WINTER 2023 Pre-orders Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign which contained preorders only but you could also preorder and buy existing issues directly from the Alterna Comics website which I did. I contributed to the campaign and I ordered from the website. My order on the website included the giant edition, issues 5 and 6. From the campaign, I selected Wulf and Batsy #7 Unit 44 #7 and the Collector Case Insert Set. My second order included Issue 8.
The products were delivered over 4 packages which I didn’t like so much. I wouldn’t have mind to wait until everything was available but I completely forgot to inform Pete. In any case, the tracking numbers were provided timely and the packages arrived in good condition.
Alterna is actively publishing comics and offers clients, through its crowdfunding campaigns, the opportunity to get new issues of comic books before they go public on their website. The prices are very affordable for pre-orders and when it goes public the price remains almost the same. The book’s interior pages are made of newspaper material, very similar to readers’ digest just thinner, and with a more vulnerable cover.
Alterna has good customer service. You can always be sure that you will get a response when you contact them. The tracking number was timely provided. They delivered everything in one package, which is what was expected and what I prefer. Receiving multiple packages can be costly for international backers who may use third-party packaging management services.
Unit 44 is a very entertaining series to read. It’s centered on comedy and the hook for each story is how the agents find a way out of the problems they put themselves into. The series has a few story arcs in the beginning that you get in the giant edition, the later issues are more like stand-alone stories that I could share with friends without them needing to read everything from the beginning, especially issues 5 and 6.
The Alterna Comics WINTER 2023 Pre-orders Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign is closed but you can get the issues mentioned on the Alterna Comics website and on the website of the author Wes Locher where you can find bundle packages of all books in case you want to get all of Unit 44. By this time issue 8 is also completed and available on the Alterna website. Be prepared for some crazy adventures with Unit 44!