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Armor Hunters #4 [Review]

Armor Hunters #4Kill

Writer: Robert Venditti
Artist: Doug Braithwaite
Colorist: Laura Martin
Letterer: Dave Sharpe
Cover Artists: Doug Braithwaite, Tom Fowler, Trevor Hairsine, and Clayton Henry
Assistant Editor: Josh Johns
Editor: Warren Simons
Published by: Valiant
Cover Price: $3.99

I can say from the start that this did not end with quite the grandiose hugeness I was expecting. For an 18-issue (now 19 including the upcoming Aftermath issue) thing, I don’t know what I was hoping for exactly, but this wasn’t it.

But then, I wasn’t buying this because it was Armor Hunters. I wasn’t following the story because of it being “an event” or the “latest event” or anything like that. I wasn’t following it because of chromium covers or variant covers. I wasn’t following it BECAUSE of any of the marketing or checklists or whatever. I was buying this because it was Valiant, and from May 2012’s relaunch to present, I’ve been “all-in” on Valiant.

That said, I found this issue to be a solid one, wrapping up this particular “core chapter” in the ongoing story that is Valiant continuity as a whole.

The art is very good as usual…I really had no complaints there. The style works and fits the story, and I was never taken out of things because of some visual quirk or stylistic twinge or otherwise anything distracting about the “meta” nature of anything with the art. The characters all looked good, the action was easy to follow, everything seemed consistent with what I’ve seen before. The art thus was good in the best way: only consciously “noticeable” because I’m choosing to comment on it in the capacity of this review. In the reading, it simply “was.” Nothing stand-out distractingly “great” but nothing distractingly bad–it allowed the story to take the stage.

Through the issue, we see Aric armor up again with the X-O suit, and reconnect with Bloodshot and the Unity team, as all come back together and the immediate threat of the team of “Armor Hunters” themselves is brought to a close.

The story is relatively simple on the surface for the issue–a lot of fighting as the hunters are laid low while the Earth-heroes take their own share of physical punishment for the trouble. But we also get some interesting elements for moving forward, and I feel like a key “promise” was indeed fulfilled–and satisfyingly so. While I don’t recall now if it was in some preview or interview or such (it may have been outside the “normal, organic” nature of following the comics themselves withOUT having comic news sites or such involved) but in my mind I’ve had the notion that we’d learn more about Aric’s armor in particular, and then as an event we’d have some lasting elements to carry on beyond.

We’ve learned that the armor is one of many, that they exert a parasitic influence over the “host” (that they’re a “host” rather than simply a being that is wearing the armor says plenty), that it’s not some one-shot thing of the armor being able to heal the host, and so on.

We have the lasting impact of Mexico City’s destruction–a city does not just get wiped off the map and get forgotten. That will be a long-term lasting thing in the Valiant continuity, setting it apart from the “real world” where we as readers know Mexico City has NOT actually been destroyed during an alien attack.

We also have the impact of things on Aric with the armor now totally bonded with him, and the limitation that he now lives with–he’s in control of the armor and it won’t just take him over, won’t heal him automatically. He now can WILL the armor to heal him…but in so doing, he cedes that much more control TO the armor, such that if he takes enough physical damage in need of the armor’s brand of healing, eventually he WILL be lost to the armor.

We also have a new relationship between Aric and MERO…as well as the first explanation I can consciously recall of the title X-O Manowar being given beyond some arbitrary X-O class armor also known as manowar armor…as an “Executive Officer” titled “Manowar,” Aric sort of has a “superhero name” now, yet not…but the title is given to him, as a thing, rather than merely being a description of the armor that he happens to wear.

While an 18 or 19 part “epic” is a bit grandiose for such a small family of titles as Valiant puts out, and rather large for ANY “event” or “crossover” as an independent thing…it totally makes sense as it has played out. The core story’s been in this 4-issue mini-series. Given the ties to the X-O Manowar title itself, we’ve gotten Aric’s story here and background on Malgam and the Armor Hunters in that title. Something of this scale would certainly affect the world as a whole, hence Unity’s involvement. Bloodshot’s recruitment fits and as one of the main/big players in the Valiant Universe his action should not be relegated to off-panel “mentions.” And as Generation Zero steps out into the world in general it’s logical that they–and the remnants of the Renegades–would become involved in disaster relief efforts.

Granted that’s a much larger-scale view than “just” this fourth issue, but having read everything, this is “just” a part of that.

Context is vital, and while there’s no gigantic singular event in this issue that in and of itself will HERE change the Valiant universe, if you’ve been following the whole thing or just this mini, or X-O Manowar, this is definitely an issue to get, not to be arbitrarily skipped for some random reason. It’s good and worthwhile, and a solid issue in itself. Of course, if you have not been following anything associated with this, it would thus be a rather strange-ish point to attempt to jump into stuff, and I wouldn’t recommend it as a jumping-on point. (Yet every issue is bound to be SOMEONE’s first).

Quantum and Woody #5 [Review]

quantumandwoody005Writer: James Asmus
Art: Ming Doyle
Colors: Jordie Bellaire
Pin-Up: Tom Fowler and Brian Reber
Cover Art: Andrew Robinson, Lee Garbett, David Lopez, Mike McKone
Letters: Dave Lanphear
Editor: Alejandro Arbona
Executive Editor: Warren Simons
Published by: Valiant
Cover Price: $3.99

Now that they’ve accepted they’re stuck together…Eric (Quantum) and Woody are sharing Eric’s apartment. Of course, Eric hadn’t counted on Woody ALSO bringing the goat (now named Vincent van Goat) and the “teenage” clone of the woman who murdered their father into the mix. As Eric goes to work and returns the weapons Woody snuck out, he tasks Woody with finding a job. Instead, Woody decides to house-hunt, and winds up losing Eric’s car in the process. Eric meanwhile finds that he’s come to the attention of his boss, who lays out an interesting proposal.

Though I’ve now read all of the original Q&W issues, I’ve never looked all that deeply into them…but at least on the surface, this continues to very much come off as being in the same spirit. The situations are modified, more modern…but this series fits right with the original to me.

I don’t know where the story’s actually going, though I recognize Eric’s boss’s name and so have a certain suspicion there. I do have a better sense of Eric’s annoyance (and Woody’s deservance of being the target of said annoyance) in this series so far. 

The art isn’t bad, though something seems a bit “off” and I can’t quite put my finger on it. It’s a bit of a shift, but everyone’s still recognizable and it’s not hard to follow what’s going on.

As a bonus, we get a random pinup page in the back…which is rather amusing in itself, as well as refreshing: it’s a pin-up page, meaning full-page one-page art piece…but get this: it’s NOT A VARIANT COVER! Someone, somewhere, actually remembers that an artist can do a piece of art like this without it HAVING TO BE a VARIANT!

All in all, a good issue, and as billed on the cover, the start of a new arc and thus a better jumping-on point than the previous issue (especially when you consider the first TPB is due out soon at the “bargain” $9.99 price point of all the Valiant vol. 1s). If you’re already following the title, it’s worth continuing. If not, you might be better served grabbing the paperback to read the first/origin story and if you like it, continuing on.

Quantum and Woody (2013) #1 [Review]

Quantum and Woody (2013) #1World’s Worst part 1

Writer: James Asmus
Art: Tom Fowler
Color Art: Jordie Bellaire
Covers: Ryan Sook, Marcos Martin, Andrew Robinson and Tom Fowler
Letters: Dave Lanphear
Editor: Jody LeHeup
Created by: M.D. Bright & Priest
Published by: Valiant
Cover Price: $3.99

I don’t know when it was that I first heard of Quantum and Woody, but I’m pretty sure it was at least a decade ago. Of course, I didn’t know their significance at the time–no, the appreciation I’ve developed has come only in recent months and thanks to Comixology’s 99-cent sale of the classic material a few months back.

I also don’t recall now if my Comixology purchase of the entire classic series preceded knowledge of this new series, though I’m pretty sure my interest was actually sparked by knowing there’d be new material and wanting to read some of the original.

Whatever the case–I’m familiar with the first half of the original run, which I think made this new #1 actually more enjoyable for me.

That being said, like what I’ve read of the original, the reader is kinda thrown into things here, to pick up information through flashbacks and such.

We open on a scene of our heroes, Quantum and Woody, falling from a building and making the news, basically seen as the world’s worst super-heroes, if indeed that’s what they are. We then flash back to their past as adoptive brothers, before moving to the present where the pair learns of the death of their father. As things unfold they learn that all was not as it seemed–and they seek answers that throw them together into a rather explosive situation leading to the obligatory To-Be-Continued.

Visually I’m quite pleased with this issue…no real complaints or negatives for me on the art side of things.

Story-wise, I rather enjoy the maintenance of the “chapter headings” Priest made popular back in the day on the original series as well as in his Black Panther run for Marvel Knights. While stylistically different from the other Valiant books, it gives a certain familiarity to this that is welcome and appreciated…it also keeps this book fairly unique, providing a different “voice” than the other Valiant titles right now.

Though the bulk of the issue is essentially “origin” stuff, I the non-linear narration allows for an appearance of the characters AS Quantum and Woody in this issue; introduces the characters behind the hero-guises, and sets up the motivation that drives them…which to me is quite good for being the first issue of a brand new series.

While this is a Valiant #1, retains the standard trade dress of all the contemporary Valiant titles, etc. you don’t need to have any background whatsoever with other Valiant books in order to “get” and enjoy this issue. If you were merely handed the pages to read and had never heard of the property before, there’s nothing whatsoever here that requires you to have read anything else.

I will probably never like the $3.99 price point on any standard-size comics, but as only the sixth one-issue-per-month Valiant title, I can handle this a lot better than double-shipped $3.99 titles from other publishers, and I consider this a welcome addition to my own pull list and definitely look forward to the next issue. (And while I wait, I have half of the classic run yet to read to keep me busy!)

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