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The Five Valiant Chromiums

I was going to pass on the later ones after not being particularly thrilled with the initial Armor Hunters #1 Chromium cover, comparing it thoroughly to my favorite “old-school” Valiant chromium cover: 1993’s X-O Manowar #0.

valiant_chromiums_2014_armor_hunters

But I’d requested them, and though the store owner gave me an out–I went ahead and snagged ’em all.

Yeah, I loathe variants on principle, but even I have to make exceptions here or there, and these go with the “old school” “regular and collectors’ editions” format, rather than different images.

Whether one goes with the regular cover or the chromium cover…it’s still the same image and such…one’s “just” paper and the other’s this much thicker, sturdier material. But the fairly “iconic” images–Armor Hunters #1 and X-O Manowar #26–are still consistent. There’s not some random cover by a random artist, or some “theme of the month” or such.

Of course, now that I do have these…it’s back to standard most regular “A” cover available for the foreseeable future!

The ’90s Revisited: Ninjak Yearbook #1

ninjakyearbook001Writer: Mike Baron
Penciller: Bryan Hitch
Colorist: Steve Whitaker
Letterer: Adam Niedzwiecki
Editor: Maurice Fontenot
Editor-in-Chief: Bob Layton
Cover: Stu Suchit
Published by: Valiant
Cover Price: $3.95

After having recently read the Trapped by Webnet arc in the current Unity series,when I was flipping through a quarter-bin the other day, I bought this issue and actually read it same-day, even though I already had it. It was the immediacy, and I wasn’t sure what to expect, except a Ninjak story and the cover had a headshot of someone that I couldn’t imagine being anyone other than Dr. Silk.

For as many of the original Valiant books as I’ve amassed the last couple years, I’ve read surprisingly few so far (telling myself I’m waiting til I can read the entire Valiant universe start to finish with no gaps). So I didn’t quite know what to expect here. The issue is labeled as a Yearbook…I’ve come to realize that would be original Valiant‘s way of saying “Annual.” So this is the 1994 Annual for the Ninjak ongoing, and while I half expected a big To Be Continued, I was pleasantly “surprised” to find that this issue is self-contained.

I didn’t think about the art all that much as I read the issue, but I really didn’t have any problem with it. Nothing jumped out in any negative way, and I didn’t feel “distracted” by it, either. It just got the visuals across and told that side of the whole of the story. In typing this post I see Bryan Hitch was the penciler, so in retrospect I kind of “see” it, though it definitely (obviously) predates his work on The Ultimates by a number of years. Combined with the coloring, I’d have to say I prefer Ultimates to this, but there’s also the fact of reading this 20-year-old single issue, and that Hitch and comics/printing in general had a good 8-some years of development between when this issue was published and when The Ultimates came along.

The story is relatively simple: Ninjak’s out and about in his civilian guise, and gets recruited for a mission. Dr. Silk’s making trouble, and of course needs to be stopped. Ninjak encounters a rather personal foe en route to stopping Dr. Silk, and by issue’s end we’ve reached the adventure’s end.

Perhaps over-simplifying, I’d say this issue is basically a single-issue Ninja-Spy story: part ninja-guy in Ninjak, but he’s also a spy. And it sure as heck beats being just some kick-off to a longer story, or a concluding chapter of a longer story, or being a middle chapter of a story…etc.

I quite enjoyed reading the issue, and it was CERTAINLY worth the 25 cents, if solely for the amount of time it took to read. I’ve maybe read one or two other Ninjak issues through the years, though I’m honestly not even sure if I’ve read the first issue…I think I know more of the contemporary version of the character from the last couple years in current Valiant‘s X-O Manowar, Unity, and Armor Hunters titles. 

That being said…I never felt lost or taken out of the story by my lack of knowledge; though I’m consciously aware of “continuity” and such, this worked just fine for me as a single-issue “episode” of stuff. Perhaps it’s a bit formulaic…but for me, that worked in the issue’s favor.

While this is a sort of Annual as opposed to an arbitrarily-chosen issue of the ongoing series, it’s very satisfying to be able to just pick up one issue and have an enjoyable story, good art, and no burning desire to go grab another issue immediately to continue or finish the story.

Now recognizing the Yearbook issues as basically being annuals, I may actually target them for reading prior to getting down to any solid “reading projects” for classic Valiant.

If you come across this in a bargain bin, it’s certainly worth 25 cents to $1. While it’s good, it’s not any issue of particular or singular significance, and as a “generic ’90s book” I wouldn’t suggest paying more than $1 for a copy, and personally consider it truly 25-cent-bin fare.

X-O Manowar #26 [Review]

xomanowar026Tall Tales

Writer: Robert Venditti
Penciler: Diego Bernard
Inker: Alisson Rodrigues
Colorist: Brian Reber
Letterer: Dave Sharpe
Cover Artists: Clayton Crain and Trevor Hairsine
Assistant Editor: Josh Johns
Executive Editor: Warren Simons
Published by: Valiant
Cover Price: $3.99 ($5.99 Chromium Cover)

I’m not often a fan of the main character not being in a book, and for those solely reading this title, that could be a problem this issue. While this IS an issue of X-O Manowar, there’s no appearance or mention of Aric in this issue. Of course, technically, “X-O Manowar” is the armor’s designation whether Aric’s in it or not, but that puts us pretty close to “splitting hairs” territory for the moment. However, as one reading both this and the Armor Hunters mini (the whole ‘event’ for that matter), I have no problem with it, and at worst would liken it to a Marvel event where an ongoing book suddenly becomes “background detail” for a separate “event book.”

I’d said about Armor Hunters #1 that it felt like an issue of this title, and this issue feels like it could be a standalone Armor Hunters issue–even a #1 for an ongoing or such. This issue shows us the “origin” of Malgam and Reebo’s involvement with the Armor Hunters. We find them in a bar seeking their next job, where they stumble across one no one else will touch. Reasoning that if they take on what no one else would they could quickly make a name for themselves, they take it on. Of course, things don’t go at all as they’d planned, and they find themselves in the fight of their lives–for their lives–against a lone Armor…a fight that leads THEM to being the ones in the position of crazy-story-tellers others would mock.

As said, this issue feels to me like it could easily have been a #1 issue of some ongoing Armor Hunters series: we’re introduced to a couple characters, given some context of what they’re about, presented with a challenge, and given an epilogue after that chellenge that leads into What Comes Next. In that regard this would have been a very good first issue, leaving me interested in reading the next in order TO find out what comes next.

As such, as a 26th issue of an ongoing series, it would be easy to say this is misplaced. But for my own background, that’s about all I’ll give on that.

The art for this issue is consistent, clear, and easy to follow. I actually enjoyed the visuals–credit to the entire art team–and never found myself distracted or taken out of the “reading experience” due to anything funky with the art. While Malgam looks different–younger and not yet in a partial/beat-up armor–Reebo is quite recognizable and while the name isn’t as familiar to me yet his appearance IS. Suffice it, then, to say that I liked the art and found no particular fault in it this issue.

The story is quite good, offering us an origin story of Reebo and Malgam AS Armor Hunters, showing their first encounter with an Armor and their introduction to the Armor Hunters group. Since I’m “all-in” with the Armor Hunters event, I have little particular interest in what title contains what story elements in general as long as it has some sort of relation to the overall AH saga. But then, even if one is attempting solely to read X-O Manowar, given that Armor Hunters comes out of this title and holds significant bearing on this title, I see no great problem with this story falling in this issue. While this contextualizes the Armor Hunters mini, I also do not figure it’s any far cry to suspect this will play into later events within X-O Manowar itself, despite Aric not even appearing in this issue.

Though the cover usually doesn’t hold much bearing on my buying an issue when it’s part of something I’m getting “anyway” or that’s on my pull-list…this has gotta be one of my favorite covers of this series, and quite iconic to me of the Armor Hunters event in general. There’s just something to this imagery–of the planet about to blow, the armor racing away, its wearer obviously not happy–that just totally fits for me. That this is a larger than usual image (being a wrap-around cover and all) adds to the whole, and is a nice ‘bonus’ for holding the standard $3.99 cover price. (The chromium edition cover is $2 more at $5.99).

While I’d had no real intention of buying any of the chromium editions after my disappointment in the chromium edition of Armor Hunters #1, I’d forgotten that I’d requested ’em with my local comic shop, so this is the 3rd of the 6 for me, so while the chromium aspect does not–for me–hold up to the quality and appearance of chromium covers from the 1990s, I’m gaining a grudging appreciation for these, in and of themselves.

I really enjoyed this issue on the whole, and while I’ll admit there’s something to be said for its freshness and simply being “the latest chapter,” I think I can safely say it’s one of my favorite issues of the series so far, and another great part of this Armor Hunters epic.

Readers seeking to avoid Armor Hunters will likely have a reasonable disappointment in this issue, while those picking this up BECAUSE of Armor Hunters should find this to be a great piece of the overall picture. While having read earlier X-O Manowar stuff and certainly Armor Hunters #1 will lend further context and significance to this issue, one really does not have to have read any previous issues of X-O Manowar to jump in with this issue if one has read Armor Hunters #1.

I’m very much looking forward to what we get in the next issue, as well as further tie-ins to the overall Armor Hunters event, thanks to this issue!

xomanowar026wraparound

Armor Hunters #1 [Review]

armorhunters001regArmor Hunters / Part I: Quarry

Writer: Robert Venditti
Artist: Doug Braithwaite
Colorist: Laura Martin
Letterer: Dave Sharpe
Cover Artists: Jorge Molina, Clayton Crain, Trevor Hairsine, Doug Braithwaite
Assistant Editor: Josh Johns
Editor: Warren Simons
Published by: Valiant
Cover Price: $3.99 ($5.99 Chromium Cover)

It’s definitely safe to say that this is an issue I’ve been looking forward to specifically for quite a few weeks now. Valiant‘s done a great job with “pushing” their titles, and as someone who’s already “all-in” for present, an event like this is well-suited for me. Though I believe the “main” story will be contained to this 4-issue mini-series, there are some tie-ins with X-O Manowar and Unity, as well as several tie-in mini-series. As the opening/first chapter in the event itself, this issue stands alone fairly well while sitting in the midst of established continuity.

This issue opens with an attack on a Russian facility where suits of armor are being developed in as-close-as-possible approximation to Aric’s X-O armor. The aliens attack the base, killing those within, having located the place due to the armors. While no sentience is detected, the armors are destroyed, and the aliens left baffled as to why humans would seek to duplicate such dangerous things. After this attack, Aric finds his people’s new homeland invaded by US forces–though said forces claim to be there to protect them, not to invade. Aric is brought up to speed from the US forces’ side, and seeks further counsel from Malgam (the alien he fought in the Armor Hunters Prelude in X-O Manowar #s 23-24). The alien “hunters” then unleash an attack that leaves little doubt as to their power, and the devastation possible on Earth if the X-O armor is not turned over to them.

As said, this issue sits in the midst of estabished continuity–particularly in references to goings-on in the X-O Manowar title. While readers of that title will have a fuller appreciation of Aric’s attitude and and what led to the present status quo, reading this issue by itself one is simply presented WITh the present status quo. Said status quo can be accepted at face value, but those interested in more can seek out the earlier stories to get the details.

By and large, this issue reads like an issue of X-O Manowar (which makes sense, given Venditti is the writer on both). The aliens are presented as the antagonists, yet don’t come off entirely as ‘villains’–moreso they come off as a “Federation” with no “Prime Directive” and no qualms about razing planets to make sure the apparently sentient armors are eradicated. The characterization seems consistent with the X-O Manowar title, and I have no issues with the story so far as “merely” the opening chapter.

Visually, I don’t have much to say except that I really enjoyed the issue, and nothing to the art really put me off or distracted me from the story. I know Braithwaite‘s art from Unity at the least, which adds to the consistent familiarity of the issue’s look/feel. I like the aliens’ design–they look suitably alien, while also being distinct individuals.

While this issue in and of itself doesn’t seem to justify the huge crossover, its ending does show how the crossover works quite organically as the impact of the issue is not limited to a single facility or base and truly will affect the entire planet.

Though one could presumably “jump in blind” with this issue and reasonably follow stuff, the full enjoyment (at least for me) of the issue comes from its growth out of continuity.

As there are a couple covers/editions, I recommend sticking with the standard cover…I was not suitably impressed at the “enhanced” “chromium” cover, finding it did not have the same boldness of the classic ’90s Valiant Chromium covers.

If you’re reading X-O Manowar, this definitely works as an extension of the title. It’s also worth picking up if you’re planning to follow any of the tie-in minis to get what I imagine will be the larger/broader context. And if you’re just looking for a mini-series to “dabble” in Valiant, this is also worthwhile on the whole.

Rai #1 [Review]

Rai #1 Plus EditionWelcome to New Japan

Writer: Matt Kindt
Art: Clayton Crain
Letters: Dave Lanphear
Associate Editor: Alejandro Arbona
Editor: Warren Simons
Published by: Valiant
Cover Price: $3.99 ($4.99 “Plus Edition”)

This is–even more than Unity–probably my most-anticipated new release title from Valiant. And while I normally avoid variant editions like a plague, I wound up picking up the “Plus Edition” when I found it a couple days after having bought/read the regular edition.

On the whole, I mostly prefer the regular edition…the only really worthwhile (to me) part of the “Plus” material was the map of Japan 4001 A.D. that gives a lot of detail to the various levels of the future country that can’t possibly fit in-story (at least not in a single issue). I really don’t care whatsoever for the “bonus” Spylocke stuff, and would have been quite content leaving that to what it was in the regular edition. The “selling point” of the “Plus Edition” is that these 16 pages of material won’t be reprinted in the collected edition…though somehow, I can’t see the map going for long without inclusion, as it could prove a very useful bit of information to have (at least in the eventual deluxe edition hardcover). I groused last year about DC‘s “poster” fold-out from Superman Unchained #1 and how that seemed pointless…seeing this map, this (again, to me) is exactly the sort of thing worthy of being a poster fold-out!

The bulk of the issue itself is focused on the fact that for the first time in a thousand years, a murder has been committed. This leads to the involvement of Rai–a guardian of Japan. Our viewpoint character is someone curious to see Rai “live,” to see this legendary figure, and we get a fair bit of context from her narration before we shift to getting the same from Rai himself.

This issue felt rather immersive, as I just sort of got lost in the reading and the exploration of this futuristic Japan. I was certainly influenced by knowledge of the classic version of Rai from the ’90s Valiant universe and what I’ve come to know of that version of the character. It’s that knowledge that made me all the more curious about what I’d find here, and to see what would be done with the character. As with many first issues, I found myself taking this in much as I would a tv show I was checking out–I recognize where we may have been introduced to supporting characters, though with only a single “episode” there’s little telling what will last and what’s just setup outside of the title character himself.

The story certainly interests me–I’m very much looking forward to the next issue–but I can’t just rattle off names of characters or anything on the initial read-through and re-perusal.

Visually, this is a beautiful issue–I really like the character designs, and nothing stood out to me as distraction. The art just fits the story and has something about it that just fits the title, the character, and the overall concept. It’s got a realism to it that I like but it still manages to be recognizably a comic and not something trying to be a photonovel or anything of that sort.

I don’t touch on covers (other than grousing about variants) as much as I ought, but this cover is–to me–possibly the most “iconic” of the Valiant issues this year, and probably for the entire current run of the publisher. The title logo is properly familiar yet simple and new; the cover image is really only about half the cover, but is nicely offset by the white bar with the logo (regular edition) and offset by black on the plus edition (which I like slightly better). The cover design itself is eye-catching and shows all the issue’s information clearly (publisher, issue #, title, creators) with a striking image of the main character.

Rai #1 Regular EditionTo me, this is the best of the Valiant launches–the title catches the eye from the cover, the interior is great visually, the story is engaging with a solid balance between divulging necessary information to hook me as a reader while leaving plenty of details to the imagination or future exploration, and simply leaves me quite interested in the next issue. Further strength lies in this being officially set in the Valiant universe, in the same time-period (4001 AD) as the most recent Eternal Warrior arc, and yet you don’t have to have read ANYTHING else from the publisher to “get” this story and its characters. This can be read entirely by itself, as nothing more than a sci-fi story set in a futuristic Japan.

While my ultimate preference would like in a singular edition with no variance in covers and content (even at a $4.99 instead of $3.99 price point), this is about as good as it gets when it comes to first issues these days. Whether you’ve read anything else from Valiant classic or present, if you enjoy sci fi or futuristic stories, or just something with a legendary guardian figure wielding a sword, I highly recommend checking this out, whichever edition you’d find.

Unity #1 [Review]

unity001Written by: Matt Kindt
Art & Cover by: Doug Braithwaite
Colors: Brian Reber
Published by: Valiant
Cover Price: $3.99

I have yet to read the original Unity stuff from the ’90s as I’m still missing an issue or two and haven’t spent the money on the series of collected volumes. And given that Solar and Magnus are not part of the contemporary Valiant universe and the tagline for THIS series is “Victory is not absolute” (rather than “Time is not absolute”), there’s plenty of difference.

THIS Unity isn’t an event so much as it’s a title, a team…one that is formed in response to Aric (with his X-O Manowar armor) setting down in modern Romania (ancient Dacia) and claiming it as his own, re-claiming it for his people, liberated from the Vine homeworld. Russia launches an attack–this is their backyard–and Aric is victorious, which makes them all the more nervous, and the chain effect is that the entire world is poised on the brink of World War Three. As self-styled savior, Toyo Harada gets involved, first sending in his Unity team, before realizing that he’d have to get involved personally, leading an elite team of his own.

Truthfully, I don’t know if this is a “limited series” a la Harbinger Wars (if so, no clue how many issues), or if it’s actually an ongoing series, and the big “instigating event” for the formation of a status quo is “just” this tie-in to X-O Manowar. But for the moment…I’m not too concerned. I’m “all-in” with Valiant at present–getting basically anything they put out as in single issue format. As such, limited series or ongoing, I’m getting this either way.

This felt like a longer issue than usual, with a lot going on. Really, having kept up with X-O Manowar, this actually felt like an issue of that, just involving a more diverse cast than usual, and less focus on Aric as the protagonist (he’s definitely the antagonist here). That this fits so well with that is definitely a credit to continuity in my mind, and what can be done with characters that are typically involved in separate titles coming together in one. At the same time, while I mention continuity, this can also be a decent entry-point for newer readers. The “core” story is given on the inside front cover, about Aric’s past. The other characters come into play throughout the issue and you get some context for them on a surface level at least. Of course, longer-time Valiant readers will have even more context, a deeper appreciation for some of the various character interactions, based on having come across them before…particularly Ninjak and Harada; as well as Aric himself and Gilad (the Eternal Warrior) from the actual X-O Manowar series.

As a first issue, I liked this. We’re introduced to the instigating event: Aric has claimed Romania and isn’t budging from his ancient homeland. The rest of the world isn’t happy, but have yet to put together an effective (for them) response. We get the introduction of major players–Aric himself, Harada, the Eternal Warrior, Ninjak–as well as the actual Unity team Harada deploys. The opposing sides actually meet and battle in this issue (we aren’t left solely with posturing and “setup” or “building anticipation” for this issue). The effects of the first battle are felt, and set things in motion that the issue’s end promises will be brought into play next issue.

Visually, not a bad issue. After all the months of anticipating this series, wondering what would actually play out, and so on, I was far more eager to dig in on the story side than anything with art. The fact I read right through the issue without having to stop to wonder what exactly was going on action-wise is certainly credit to the art team. Doing the job well, I like when I don’t “notice” the art much one way or the other.

I doubt this issue alone would ‘sell’ you on the Valiant Universe as a whole. But if you’ve been curious, it’s a good point to get in, and be introduced to characters involved in at least three other titles (X-O Manowar, Harbinger, Eternal Warrior), and a huge influence in a fourth (Bloodshot/Bloodshot and H.A.R.D.Corps). And following only a few months after Harbinger Wars, this title brings the Valiant universe together, bridging multiple titles without forcing a multi-title crossover…you can get the story from this issue even without having read any of the other titles.

My only real problem with this issue is the many variant covers; I’ve long had issue with there being so many/regularly variants anyway, but with five or six (at least) variants, this was rather ridiculous to me.

Ultimately, variants or otherwise, if you’ve any interest in Valiant past or present, I do recommend this issue. And if nothing else…you have a $3.99 book that is not being double-shipped, and does not continue (directly) into some other series.

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!)

Shadowman #7 [Review]

Shadowman (2012) #7 [cover]Writer: Justin Jordan
Pencils: Neil Edwards
Inks: Matt Ryan
Color Art: Brian Reber
Covers: Patrick Zircher, Dave Johnson, Matthew Waite
Letters: Rob Steen
Editor: Jody LeHeup
Published by: Valiant
Cover Price: $3.99

I feel kind of like I missed an issue. Without going back to re-read the series-thus-far, I vaguely remember where the story left off before last month’s #0 issue, but jumping into this issue I found myself wondering if I truly remembered, or had a slight bit of deja vu from reading the catch-up text on the inside cover.

We find Shadowman and his compatriots facing Baron Samedi, and ultimately coming to a sort of “understanding” in their mutual goal of preventing Darque from crossing from the Deadside in to the “real world.” As the deal unfolds, not everyone is on the same page, and one of our heroes seems to make a bit of a mistake that looks like it’s going to cost the group next issue.

If my summary is brief and vague…there’s something about this series, where it’s one I’m enjoying…but it’s a sort of enjoy-as-I-read-it more than it is remembering-after-I’ve-read-it. As it is with much of what I read these days. I read an issue, and that’s fine, but it doesn’t stick with me much beyond the reading, until/unless I delve back in to construct a better summary for a review…but then I may be over-analyzing, and going back in to pick things apart isn’t “just” the “reading experience” of buying an issue and reading it and planning to continue with the next issue.

As said, I’m enjoying this series in and of itself. The art’s good–I’ve no trouble following what’s going on, there’s no over-fancy or complicated page layouts or funky, stylistic stuff to distract…it’s just good art conveying the story.

And the story itself continues to build on itself–we have the growing threat of Darque, continue to see the characters feel each other out and develop as a group: the duo already familiar with each other before Shadowman was with them, and the Shadowman himself, Jack, who is dealing with his new status quo and with being a new/outsider-y member of the “group” and all that.

As a continuing reader of the series, this is another solid issue. I’m not as “into” this title as say, X-O Manowar or Harbinger…but this is still a welcome part of my Valiant purchasing, and I don’t plan to leave it behind anytime in the near future.

Archer and Armstrong #10 [Review]

Archer & Armstrong (2012) #10 [cover]Mystery Hole

Writer: Fred Van Lente
Artist: Pere Perez
Colorist: David Baron
Letterer: Simon Bowland
Covers by: Clayton Henry, Juan Doe, Matthew Waite, Andrew Robinson
Assistant Editor: Josh Johns
Executive Editor: Warren Simons
Published by: Valiant
Cover Price: $3.99

I’m enjoying the standard covers on this series lately. They fit the characters, and are rather amusing given context OF the characters. This one–Armstrong, Archer ,and some alien caught sneaking by, guns pointed at them…something about it just works for me.

Inside the issue, we don’t see this scene exactly…but we do see our heroes breaking into a Project Rising Spirit facility/Area 51 (there’s our tie-in: it’s Valiant, so of course PRS is involved). They’re looking for info on Archer’s past, true info rather than what he’s been told all his life by manipulative parents–but things don’t go quite as planned. We’re also reintroduced to Mary-Maria, whose status quo was left a bit in question recently, and see what she’s now dealing with…holding a lot of potential for quirky situations and interesting character development as we continue on.

I’m honestly not entirely sure where I stand with this title, in a way: I certainly enjoy it, but like Shadowman, I sometimes feel like I’m playing catchup, as its story details don’t often stick with me outside the actual reading of the issues. I guess that puts me as a more generalized or casual fan than a die-hard, for whatever that says about me.

As usual, the story and art work well together. I can follow along without issue, I’m not left scratching my head or finding myself taken out of the story by some weird, stylistic art bit, and I don’t pick up on any great plot holes or such.

In short, I read the issue, I enjoyed the issue, and I expect to be back for the next issue.

Catching up with Valiant: Harbinger, Bloodshot, and X-O Manowar

Harbinger #12

harbinger012Harbinger Wars continues, but we focus here on the interaction of the usual cast with the freed psiots and how everyone’s dealing with the stress of their current situation. We also see Toyo’s continued machinations as his plans for everyone continue to unfold.

In some ways, for a fairly casual reader, this story’s all over the place. I honestly don’t have a completely clear mental timeline of this “event”/crossover where I could simply rattle off a lengthy summation of The Story So Far.

However, somehow I’m continuing to enjoy the individual issues, in and of themselves, being aware that there’s an overall story going on. It’s sort of like missing an episode or two of a tv series, having read basic spoilers online, and continuing onward. It’ll be interesting to see how this thing’s collected–whether we’ll get a nice, thick 12-issue volume collecting the entire thing, or three separate volumes (one for each series involved).

Bloodshot #11

bloodshot011I’m finding some blurring in my mind as to what’s been happening in this title itself (ditto Harbinger). Yet the story’s been solid–as has the art–and I’m thoroughly enjoying the “bigger picture” nature of Harbinger Wars: the larger story, and things unfolding in three issues per month rather than just one or two.

This issue gives us an expanded scene on the Harada Protocol, where the core of Bloodshot’s programming is to kill Harada–including the use/display of previously unknown abilities including a brainwave EMP and being able to puke the nanites into another person.

The story and art continue to be good, and as I actually read the issue, I enjoyed it; more than I can consciously reiterate details of the plot contained within this one issue. I’ve already been “spoiled” as to upcoming changes for this title that leave me a little curious…it’ll be interesting to see how things go, but it sorta sucks to already be thinking about that with two more issues to go with this current event/story.

X-O Manowar #13

xomanowar013This issue’s–I believe–the penultimate chapter of Planet Death, as I seem to recall #s 9 & 10 were to be “prologue” and the entire thing 6 chapters including those.

Aric finds himself faced with unforeseen choices as what should have–to him–been black and white is muddied gray once he’s had time on the Vine homeworld. There’s something to this issue that reminds me vaguely of classic Superman stuff, with Kandor and all–and it’ll be interesting to see how things actually play out in the next issue, as I think the issue after that involves the Eternal Warrior.

Nord‘s art continues to fit the character well, though I find that some pages seem rather light on detail while others look very good. Overall looking forward to the next issue, and quite glad to see this series last not only a full year, but seeing it on track for beyond.

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