“I am good at cleaning up psiots. They taste sweet.”
Hey, hey, this is D. C., and I’m excited to throw down on some work this month. First is a strong favorite of mine: Valiant’s Secret Weapons, from the creative team of Eric Heisserer, Raul Allén, and Patricia Martín.
Any info on Secret Weapons?
I came into Secret Weapons knowing absolutely nothing about what came before. Secret Weapons was just one of many books published by Valiant Comics back in the 1990’s. With Valiant Entertainment’s revival (a very good one, I might add), the company has reintroduced many of those old books in various forms.
While the original book had a team of its more iconic characters like Bloodshot, the Eternal Warrior, and X-O Manowar, we now have a hidden set of psiots who were part of Toyo Harada’s Willows program.
Basically, a set of rejects whom Harada deemed had no useful abilities towards his goals.
In the aftermath of the series Harbinger, the psiots are public knowledge, and Harada’s own hardships in Imperium means the Willows have been abandoned. In the meantime, a patchwork creature called Rex-0 (I’m unsure if it is pronounced “Rex-zero,” or “Rex-O”…damn comics) is hunting Harada’s rejects. Why hasn’t been determined.
That’s inconsequential to Harada’s former protege, Livewire, who is trying to rescue the psiots and uncover Rex-0’s benefactor, who may be more sinister than Harada ever was.
I don’t think I’ve ever come across a book that had characters with relatively useless powers, and yet so endearing, funny, dynamic, and interesting all in one.
If you’ve read any of Valiant’s books that feature Livewire (Harbinger or Unity), you would know she is a powerful psiot. Still, she has not been the focus of this book, and thankfully so. But only two issues in, it is Nikki Finch and Owen Cho who shine.
With Owen, we quickly get an idea of his character, his background, and just the hilarity of his abilities. Owen conjures objects, but he has no control of when and what he conjures. Still, Eric Heisserer plans the usefulness of Owen’s uselessness very well in the first two issues. I couldn’t help but be surprised and pleased and how these innocuous items Cho conjured were used to escape danger.
Now…Nikki Finch, the psiot who speaks to birds.
She is a true gem. A skilled gymnast with a tough and courageous attitude, she is hard proof that your abilities alone do not make you a contender. Finch uses her innate and learned skills with finesse, fearlessness, and wonderful abandon. You can’t help but love her character. I feel she has great potential in the Valiant universe, thanks to Heisserer.
As for the art? Raul Allén and Patricia Martín work together well to generate an intriguing tale with Heisserer’s script. The art seems simplistic, but you can’t denigrate even simplistic art that pushes dynamics, emotion, and great physical action. This artistic team excels here.
Valiant’s revival of Secret Weapons leaves nothing to the imagination, and it is only two issues in. There is heart, actions, great characterization, and fantastic introductions given to a slew of characters. Again, Eric Heisserer proves his skill in tackling characters with useless abilities and makes them anything but. The art provided by Raul Allén and Patricia Martín help to weave a great tale that can only make one hopeful not just for the Secret Weapons, but for the future of Valiant.
Pick it up now.
Hey, all. It’s D.C. here just to throwdown on a discussion. My apologies for no reviews this week, but out-of-town training can keep you from reading as much as you’d want.
With X-O Manowar at an end last week, Valiant Entertainment has lost its flagship title, the book that helped restarted the Valiant Universe.
The question now is: Which new title will pick up the torch? Can a new title stand on the same level as that of X-O Manowar?
It’s my opinion that have a flagship title is great for any publisher. It’s something that helps drive or focus the overall universe or theme of the publisher in some form, if they are trying to create a cohesive universe. For Marvel, it was (supposed to be) Invincible Iron Man–though with the Marvel Now! initiative, that’s now up in the air. I fear Marvel’s seeming lack of focus will be detrimental. DC’s flagship could arguably be Justice League (certainly not Batman–his tone is too divergent for the overall DCU). IDW has Transformers.
With Valiant, the next title in this new phase of the universe seems very much up in the air, even with continuing titles Ninjak and Wrath of the Eternal Warrior. Let’s take a look at our potentials:
1. Faith: Faith might be the quintessential optimistic heroine, bringing hope and innocence to the gray, harsh world of Valiant, she doesn’t quite strike me as a flagship title. I’ve yet to read the first 3 issues I have of this series, but from what Kay told me (she hasn’t warmed up much to the series), this book isn’t expansive enough to help build the world of Valiant in the same manner as X-O Manowar.
2. Harbinger Renegades: This is the closest book I can see that will herald the next phase of the Valiant Universe. The first Harbinger series was great, and now that the spin-off series Imperium ended on a somber note, we need to see how the world still handles the threat of Toyo Harada. Peter Stanchek’s return is sorely needed. And for the Renegades to find themselves, their growth may tie in to the overall growth of Valiant and the rise of new heroes, villains, and organizations. Interestingly enough, the black woman in the background has yet to be revealed, but I can only think it’s Unity’s Livewire. How will she tie in to the group and its overall destiny?
3. Britannia: No way. This miniseries is set so far in the past. But it’s with great hope that the world’s first detective will shed more light in Valiant’s past. Perhaps we’ll see something related to the Vine or the Anni-Padda brothers…or perhaps a later event?
4. Savage: Another 4-part miniseries that we can cut off the headliner list. Savage has been hailed as the Turok series that Valiant has been missing. With crazy and striking art, this mini’s already been stated that the series will integrate into the overall Valiant universe. How that will happen is anyone’s guess. This is probably the book I most look forward to.
5. Generation Zero: I’ve read the first issue of this series, but I have so little to say about the wayward psiot children that debuted in Bloodshot. I’m not sure where this series is supposed to go, or how much of the Valiant universe it’s supposed to unveil, but there were some very interesting twists just in the inaugural issue. If the other children of Generation Zero show up, and if this series keeps up the momentum, I can see some very unsettling facets of the Valiant Universe being revealed to us.
6. Bloodshot Reborn: Nah…Bloodshot’s world is far too psychotic and gritty to make the tone of Valiant. Bloodshot Reborn has been a great follow-up to the psiot killer’s first series and The Valiant (and I’d say a little better–pick up the first 3 volumes if you hadn’t), but this chaotic anti-hero strives too hard to be away from the general world. However, with the upcoming event Bloodshot U.S.A., Bloodshot’s place in the Valiant Universe is growing–but is that a good thing? Wait till we see the chaos that will come.
7. Rai: Holy damn, what a good ending to Rai with the event, 4001 A.D. But since this series won’t come back until January, we can rule out this one as a flagship. However, when it returns, it should continue to flagship the future of Valiant now that new heroes (a Loa related to Shadowman, the nonhuman Bloodshot, the War Mother, the geomancer and the Eternal Warrior) have risen to join Rai and the fallen New Japan. If you haven’t read this series or it’s conclusion, 4001 A.D., I strongly suggest you pick up all the books.
8. Divinity III: Stalinverse: This has been one of the more intriguing lines coming out soon. I haven’t read Divinity II yet, but the first book was very captivating. But this one details a warped world that only Ninjak knows to be wrong. As for the titular character…where is he, will he aid or antagonize Ninjak, and how will these events drive the rest of the Valiant Universe when all is said and done?
So, for now….the idea of a Valiant flagship title is uncertain, as is the overall direction of the future going in. Still, these titles all appear exciting in some way. I can only hope that Valiant continues to push the envelope and develop other corners of its still-nascent world.
And I hope you’re looking forward to it, too.
“All we have…is what we leave behind.”
Hey, all, this is D.C. back to throw down on a series. Now that I’ve finished the final issue of Valiant’s 4001 A.D., I think it’s time to give my thoughts on it.
4001 A.D. picks up right after the catastrophic events of the Rai series, where the tenth Rai, having learned of his origins and having attempted a rebellion against the cybernetic despot Father, attempts once more to end Father’s rule and liberate the citizens of New Japan. Aiding Rai in his desperate move, among several others, is the Eternal Warrior, who’s on a mission of his own to save an enslaved Geomancer.
4001 A.D., the future of Valiant by the creative team of Matt Kindt and Clayton Crain, culminates through four issues and several tie-ins.
Since Kay and I first dove into the Valiant Universe, we’ve been more pleased than not by the sheer storytelling, the inter-connectivity, and the character development. The creators of Valiant really make you care about the characters and appreciate the gray area in which all the characters live.
4001 is the summer event of Valiant, and it was the same as every other event Valiant’s put out in the last few years: focused, detailed, and very satisfying.
Matt Kindt wrote a quick and engrossing tale that was many things: a warrior’s battle; a battle against father and son; a battle for independence…4001 A.D. was all these in one. The final battle between dictator and revolutionaries is an old tale, and like all of them, casualties on all sides abound, even among the innocents. It is a hard tale that Kindt weaves in such a striking way.
The cast was great. Many, especially deuteragonist Lula Lee, gets some spotlight shown on them. Though they were many, none were more important than the protagonist Rai, and Matt Kindt does a fantastic job keeping the focus on Rai and his emotional battle so well that the story doesn’t feel the least bit disjointed.
Now for the art…
If you know who Clayton Crain is, then you know what a phenomenal artist he is. Savior, X-Force, Carnage, he is proven himself long ago. It’s no surprise that Crain absolutely kills it in this story. Crain’s dark and vibrant colors, shimmering and extreme detail, and steampunk notes make 4001 A.D. truly a sight to behold. The destruction, the chaos, and hope in Kindt’s writing have even more gravitas with Crain’s art.
And really…a giant mecha dragon versus a mega-sized manowar armor?! That was barely the icing on the cake!
The ending was fantastic. Like any reader, I had my own expectations about the end of 4001 A.D., but I’m glad I was proven wrong. It was a foregone conclusion that the world would fall, but as for the immediate aftermath? It was such a quiet and satisfying end that it left me even more excited to know how each character endures in later stories.
I reviewed one of 4001 A.D.’s tie-ins before, but all of them–War Mother, Bloodshot, X-O Manowar, Shadowman, and the Rai origins–were great reads in all their own ways. War Mother, Bloodshot, and Shadowman in particular appear to give readers a hint of what’s to come for those who survive this event. And I can’t wait to see how these characters rise in in the new world.
I only have two complaints.
A couple of characters important to Rai’s mythos were left unnaccounted for by the end. It isn’t the first time Valiant’s events did this and addressed those discrepancies in a great way later, so I’ll for the follow-ups to see what became of these characters.
Second…It was such a painful wait for the main issues and the tie-ins (which were very satisfying themselves). I was so hungry to find out what would happen next that the wait was grating.
Still, the wait was more than worth it.
4001 A.D. was a quick and riveting summer event. The tie-ins gave a great glimpse of the past (in Rai and X-O Manowar), or a look at what’s to come (Shadowman, War Mother, and Bloodshot). The creative team of Matt Kindt and Clayton Crain made a perfect end to the Rai saga, and I hope they stay to show how the pieces get picked up…both literally and figuratively.
If you haven’t picked up this series, please find it, or prepare to pick up the trade in a few months.
“They sing of who they are. They sing of deliverance.”
Hey, all, this is D.C. back to throwdown on an interesting comic: Valiant’s Eternal Warrior: Days of Steel.
Who is the Eternal Warrior?
Gilad Anni-Padda is the youngest of the three Anni-Padda brothers (the eldest, Ivar the Timewalker, and Aram, aka Armstrong). Somewhere around 10 millennia ago, the Anni-Padda brothers each achieved immortality in different ways. In Gilad’s case, the earth keeps him alive to serve and protect the geomancer, the speaker of the earth. By his introduction, Gilad had amassed almost 10’000 years worth of warfare expertise. He is Valiant’s more proficient warrior and strategist.
The third volume of Eternal Warrior addresses one of many periods in Gilad’s life and delves into something we all can attest to: faith, or lack thereof. After serving the earth for millennia, what happens when Gilad begins to question his faith and service to the earth and the geomancer?
Days of Steel sees the geomancer, expressed as a crow (which confused me, since all geomancers I’d seen, past, present and future, were human) tasks the Eternal Warrior with protect a baby destined to be the savior of his dying Frank people and culture in the war against the Magyar. What happens when Gilad questions his decision when choosing the “right” savior?
Writing and Art?
Peter Milligan does a fantastic job writing this story. Beyond Milligan’s poetic monologues, you’re instantly thrown into Gilad’s violent war. You still see the immortal’s very human nature, and his disgust with the basest part of human nature: violence. You can’t help but feel for Gilad and his struggle to make sense of his eternal life.
The best part of the story is reading about Gilad’s uncertainty that he chose the right twin. Even if you can predict it, it doesn’t take away from the liberating feel of the story and how the destined twin saves his people and culture in the face of overwhelming odds. Milligan can make you understand that strength can originate in even the weakest of humans.
Cary Nord takes on the task of bringing the Eternal Warrrior and his world to life. I’ve seen Nord’s art before in Valiant’s Unity, and I’m not a fan of it.It doesn’t always seem a good fit, but I have to concede that Nord’s art works very well with Milligan’s writing. Here, you see Nord’s art work well in showing an old and violent world.
With regards to the cast, Nord definitely captures the cowardice of Falk and his father, Gilad and Franz’s bravery and warmongering natures, and the conflict in Gilad’s heart over his faith. Nord’s art brings understanding to the storyline, and that made me enjoy this trade more than the first two volumes.
The third volume in the Eternal Warrior series, Days of Steel, is pretty heartfelt. Peter Milligan does a fantastic job writing a somber and simple story of faith, destiny, and revolution through the eyes of a weary and wary immortal. Cary Nord shows not only the violent nature of humanity, but also the hope, and resolve of an endangered people in the face of oppression.
I recommend the entire Eternal Warrior series, but Vol. 3 is definitely the best in my eyes.
Hey, all, D.C. here. I’ve spent so much time reading and so little writing, that I think I will throwdown in a different way with quick reviews on some of my reads to play catch-up.
Book of Death
Valiant’s 2015 event Book of Death picks up some time after The Valiant storyline. This time around, a new Geomancer is being manipulated by one of Valiant’s most enduring villains in an effort tear the world asunder. Gilad Anni-Padda, the Eternal Warrior and Tama, a time-displaced Geomancer, race to stop the catastrophic events detailed in Tama’s Book of the Geomancers from coming to pass. Of course, the Eternal Warrior’s allies in Unity believe Tama is the cause of dozens of murders, and seek to put her and Gilad down.
Like The Valiant, Book of Death is a very quick read, with Robert Venditti using the members of Unity pretty nicely. Venditti does not waste time and paper in this book, such as Eternal Warrior handing his allies their asses in entertaining fashion. It is pleasing to see an isolated tale that simply cranks out the story while maintaining sufficient (and sometimes compelling) interactions between the warring protagonists and antagonist.
Robert Gill’s art is nothing particularly special in my eyes, but his appropriate facial expressions, body language, and gestures are an adequate job. This is focused well on a rough and desperate Gilad Anni-Padda, who is driven to prevent further failure of his duty. The ending was written just as simply with satisfaction and finality. It twists the fate of an immortal warrior on its head, but also sets the tone for the follow-up series, Wrath of the Eternal Warrior.
Cyborg, Vol. 1: Unplugged
I finally decided to crank out DC’s Cyborg, Vol. 1: Unplugged. David F. Walker does a good job focusing on the thoughts and insecurities of Cyborg in the New 52, and one of–in my eyes–seriously intelligent black characters in comics.
Walker adequately delved into the layers of Victor Stone: his friendships and rivalries; his superheroic identity, his internal conflict about how he sees himself and how he is viewed by others; his dysfunctional upbringing…and how they all serve to evolve Cyborg, literally and figuratively.
It was good to see Cyborg in his own element, and in his hometown, interacting with people only he would know. I thought some parts of Walker’s portrayal came off as silly, but that might have been an intentional show of Cyborg’s crass and non-very humorous sense of humor. Not everyone can be very funny, right?
Ivan Reis primarily does the art for this first volume, and he does a great job presenting smooth and detailed art. Reis shows wonderfully intricate detail to the cybernetics on Cyborg and his antagonists.
I don’t get to read many black-centric comic characters, and this was one that did a character like Cyborg some justice.
Invincible Iron Man, Vol. 1: Reboot
Marvel’s flagship All-New, All-Different Marvel title was something I was waiting to tackle. Invincible Iron Man, Vol. 1: Reboot delves right into Tony Stark’s attempts to reinvent himself after a mid-life crisis style…crisis…when his ingenuity is questioned and challenged.
I enjoyed the new cast in Invincible Iron Man. For the most part. David Marquez’s art is great. He draws a new, vivaciously intelligent woman in Stark’s life who challenges his bravado in big ways. Dr. Doom’s return post-Secret Wars was portrayed very well, yet there is still much mystery as to Doom’s motivations and machinations. Madame Masque’s unmitigated insanity is always a pleasure to read.
What really started soured this experience, though, was Brian Michael Bendis’ portrayal of Iron Man. It seemed obvious, to me, that Bendis was trying much too hard to capitalize on the Marvel Cinematic Universe films and trying to invoke Robert Downey, Jr.too much. The comedy quickly lost its luster. Much of the story arc was honestly forget to me, aside from Madame Masque, so I think Bendis needs to find a spark that will give weight to this book.
Mary Jane Watson’s inclusion in Invincible Iron Man is of no problem to me. I have always believed that characters don’t “belong” in a particular book, and that they can find a place in any place, in any book, with the right reasons and writer. It changes the dynamics. And you can see the dynamics start to shift for both MJ and Iron Man. The curse of continuity changes reared its ugly head when Tony introduced himself to MJ. How is it that they don’t know one another when Spider-Man was an Avenger, when MJ lived in Stark Tower for a time? Even after Spider-Man’s One More Day storyline, there should be no reason these two would introduce themselves. And that moment soured the experience even more.
Invincible Iron Man, Vol. 1 has much to offer, but it also leaves much to be desired. I hope Bendis and polish his portrayal of Iron Man without trying to copy-paste Robert Downey, Jr. on paper. If I wanted that, I’d save money and watch the MCU films.
Hm…three quick reviews? There will be more to come. Tune in next time, folks.
Good day to everyone. This is D.C. here for a quick throwdown. Let’s have a discussion on this little gem:
4001 A. D.: Bloodshot is a tie-in to Valiant Comics’ ongoing event, 4001 A. D., which is primarily covering the hero of that era, Rai. For those of you who haven’t read Rai, Kay recently wrote a review on the sheer awesomeness of the series and on the hero. I haven’t read the main event yet, but I decided to take a look at this tie-in by Jeff Lemire and Doug Braithwaite.
How’s that creative team?
4001 A. D.: Bloodshot really hits the ground running on the storytelling. Jeff Lemire does a phenomenal job on the monologue of this new Bloodshot, as well as its identity crisis. Why is Bloodshot feeling this way? What is its (his? their?) background? It all happens quickly, but in a very credible and understandable way. Lemire tackles the characterization of Bloodshot in poetic fashion.
Doug Braithwaite’s art is more than up to par on with the world of 4001. Adding in Brian Reber’s colors, Bloodshot’s emergence and the world around him comes out in a lush, yet dystopic and barren fashion. Quite fitting for the world that’s already been depicted in Rai, yet distinct to the art I’d expect out of Bloodshot.
Overall, Bloodshot’s story is short and very good.
After Bloodshot’s macabre emergence, he (or it? or they?) had a very single-minded goal, and that final mission is carried out very simply in this one-shot. Bloodshot had a payload that needed to be secured and delivered. But throughout that goal, Bloodshot dwells on its identity compared with that of the original Bloodshot and the history the two shared. That is the emphasis placed here.
Bloodshot’s introspection was humbling, and one we can all relate to. It was like reading a child’s maturation in quick succession.
Bloodshot’s success in his objective is bittersweet and very unlike the character’s mechanical nature, but in a good way. His actions were contradictory to his mindset, but that was obvious in its monologue, its identity crisis.
4001 A. D.: Bloodshot is a worthwhile read for any fan of Valiant Comics, and for those just looking for a jumping on point. The one-shot begins and ends on a very good note, thanks to Jeff Lemire’s potent take on this somewhat new character. The ending hammers the point that Bloodshot will and should be seen more in the world of 4001 A.D. How Bloodshot will carve a future for itself in this world will be exciting to see.
How Bloodshot will encounter Rai in this world, however…that is something to really look forward to.
Hey, hey. This is D.C. back for throwdown #2 tonight on a book I completed a couple of weeks ago, and wanted to share:
Valiant’s Harbinger Wars is a crossover event between Bloodshot and Harbinger. In this event, rogue experiment Bloodshot leads a group of formerly-captive psiot children to their friends, who are holding a Las Vegas hotel hostage in true terrorist fashion. At the same time, omega-level psiot Toyo Harada rallies his Harbinger Foundation to take the psiot children for himself. To complicate matters further, Peter Stanchek leads his Renegades to the same location to prevent Harada from obtaining the children. All three groups converge with explosive results.
For those of you who have not read before this event, I highly recommend picking up Bloodshot and Harbinger. Both were exciting reads that lead up to this point.
Harbinger Wars kept me on the edge of my seat. The dramatic irony was strong and did not help to quell my excitement and anticipation. I knew the three factions were going to meet with the terrorists in Vegas, but when a fourth group gets introduced later, I could only think, “Holy s***! How crazier can this get?!” The creative teams did a great job shedding light on all five groups without making the story feel muddied. Some segments featured the different factions quickly, but it was all extremely effective.
A lot of the time I felt angry when it became clear that both Bloodshot and the Renegades were being manipulated, and not by Toyo Harada. The children are understandably hardened, but I only hoped the ones pulling the strings would get theirs in the end.
Even before that, I was both shocked and pleased at the brief battle between Bloodshot and Harada. With Harada’s vast psionic abilities, I never expected Bloodshot to hold his own, even if it wasn’t of his own accord. I love Harada as a villain, but I thoroughly enjoyed watching that cocky bastard get his butt handed to him. You really see how resourceful Bloodshot is, and even Harada is caught off guard.
Bloodshot’s battle with Peter Stanchek was also a treat. It was more primal and wild, which is no problem, knowing Peter. The best part was that this misunderstanding between the two did not get resolved. They simply battled until one gave out. It was great to see the Renegades go to war, and then realize that they are clearly in over their heads.
Casualties abound in Harbinger Wars, and they are both unpleasant and brutal. That, however, is the nature of war, and the entire creative team makes that known. The fates of everyone left me hungry for more, hopeful, elated, and despondent.
The art varies, but that is understandable in crossover. The addition of Rai’s Clayton Crain added on a special edge that I get only from his art.
By the end of Harbinger Wars, I was left confused as to the fate of Bloodshot. What happened to him? Did he survive? How did he survive? His own tie-ins left his fate unrevealed, which did not go well when the Renegades and Harbinger Foundation had some resolution. If anything, Bloodshot’s companion had a resolution of her own.
Harbinger Wars is an exciting crossover event that does well to self-contain within the respect books, while having consequences for the Valiant Universe as a whole. The extensive cast gets highlighted well with good art from all artists. The story is well-paced, dynamic, and a little difficult to take at times. More than anything, the ending of Harbinger Wars left me with a sour feeling. You root for a winner, but the ending proved that even heroes can lose.
And I mean that in a good way.
Hello everyone this is Kay G coming at you. Today’ discussion is about Rai, a Valiant comic by Matt Kindt and Clayton Crain. Valiant comics are somewhat new to me. Haven’t read many before this, but I do love what I have read so far.
The year is 4001; industrialization in Japan had begun to consume every inch of free space within the island nations borders. To feed the growing population, the country had to build upon its own infrastructure centuries before. Eventually, the nation detached from Earth entirely, and now orbits the planet.
The whole of Japan is governed by a mysterious artificial intelligence named Father, and divided into various sectors, and separated by status and social class. The classes relay advanced technology, including sophisticated human looking robots or as they’re called PT’s (Positronics). PT’s are granted to every citizen for their 16th birthday in order to keep their human company over the years, and to help stop violence and/or procreation. There are also extremist anti-technology sect called Raddies, who have vowed to overthrow Father and his symbol of his technological reign. Then standing on guard on top of Japan’s structure is Rai, the lead enforcer of Father’s justice.
Rai: Welcome To New Japan & Battle for New Japan
This story is about Rai and the evolutionary war that is about to begin with whole nation against Father, and Rai as its leader. The art in these comics are lush and vibrant in color; it captures technology at its finest. Now I’m not a huge sci-fi fan, but I absolutely love this story. It’s a rich and brilliant storyline that shows how manipulative power can really be. Rai, a cyborg and man who was created by this higher being, is finding out the truth of who he is and of Father’s true nature. Together with a band of individuals they take a stand, all working side by side, with one mission: to take down Father.
The story expands into greatness and adventure. It teaches about heart, courage, and self-value, and that no one should be treated any less for who they are. A band of outsiders taking a stand for what’s right and not what they are always told to do. This world was created to organize order and to suppress freedom; to never allow chaos. Rai learns who he is and what he’s capable of and with friends starts a war with Father.
I have read both Volumes 1 & 2 and now slowly waiting for the third in much anticipation. The war is started and I can’t wait to see what’s going to happen next. Rai is hands down going to be one of my favorites in the comic world. To all my readers: whether or not you’ve heard of Valiant comics or not, check this one out it is well worth it. I really hope you check this post out too, because otherwise you’ll be missing one heck of a story. Thank you all. This is Kay G. until next time.
“And what if God could be taught to be a better person?”
Wow, two blogs today, by both of us? Crazy.
D.C. here. Kay gave her review today on DC’s The Death of Superman, and I’m here to give you some insight into Valiant’s Harbinger:
Harbinger is the brainchild of writer Joshua Dysart; it is a series that details natural-born psiot Peter Stanchek’s crusade against power psiot leader Toyo Harada and his Harbinger Foundation. It is very much a David-and-Goliath tale with a very modern touch.
Valiant is uncharted territory for me, so I went into Harbinger with a relatively open mind. This blog covers the first two volumes, Omega Rising and Renegades.
Character development. Joshua Dysart had this in spades, especially in Volume 2. In each issue of Renegades, we get a deeper look at each member of Stanchek’s motley crew. Each character is written well with emphasis on their particular skills showing in their mannerisms and thoughts.
Peter Stanchek is a great character. He’s incredibly imperfect. He’s pathetic and self-loathing. He does foolish and terrible things that he envisions as being “out of love.” Peter is a teen that you just want to slap in the face…if he didn’t have his abilities. Peter is what many people are, and that makes him very believable, even with powers.
While Peter is special, he is nothing resembling the archetypal leader of a crusade against a monolithic man and his army. And he doesn’t have to be. Peter’s rage, ruthlessness, and raw power make him a force even Toyo Harada couldn’t ignore.
Faith Herbert is the dork you can’t help but love. What isn’t there to love? She seems remarkably comfortable with herself, in spite of her being fat and alone. Her obsession with all things related to geek culture is a treat for any comic fan. Faith is self-aware She is quickly shown as the shining light of optimism in this series. She is easily the most well-adjusted of the renegades. For all her optimism, her past and fears make her so down to earth. One can’t help but find Faith endearing.
Kris Hathaway, the only human member of Peter’s ragtag renegade group, shows how adept and necessary she is to the group, and to the world of Valiant. She truly is, as she stated, the butterfly in a storm. Regardless, her intelligence and gusto help her to contend with the best and worst in this world. Her role in this series is prophetic a simple, introspective question:
“What if God could be taught to be a better person?”
There are so many characters that shine in this, even the antagonists. Toyo Harada truly shows he is a complex and charismatic man. Harada is a champion, yet he is also a monster. He is humble, yet he is ignoble. Toyo Harada is so calculated, yet incredibly flawed and hypocritical in his goals of what can at best be seen as outright manipulation, and at worst, genocide.
Even though he is irredemable, Harada is an understandable and believable antagonist. He is the makings of a cult leader, and how he behaves and how his followers behave make this series even more disturbing and enticing. Harada’s follower Livewire laid out Harada’s and Peter’s roles perfectly: There needs to be a balance. And this series has it so far:
The cover art was phenomenal to me. So raw, with a perfect synergy with colors and pencils. The interior art, however, was MOSTLY great for the same reasons. You can tell when pencilers changed in some issues. Rotations in creative teams have always been a point of irritation for me before an arc or run is completed, but the cast of artists did not deviate terribly far throughout the first two volumes of Harbinger. As a whole, the art appeared effortless and effective.
Harbinger is a phenomenal read. There is nothing like having a protagonist, a morally gray and imperfect character, rise to what one can hope to be a hero. It is likewise frightening to see a cult army of this magnitude in the Harbinger Foundation. Joshua Dysart’s take on the protagonists and antagonists was very well done, especially when it came to tying each character’s psychologies to their own powers and skills.
I bought the remaining series in the mail, so I’m definitely looking forward to sharing where Dysart took this series.
D.C. here for a little throwdown.
I’ve had a somewhat growing dissatisfaction with the big two comic publishers (Marvel and DC) for some time. They seem to have forgotten it means to put out good, meaningful work. Marvel in particular seems to have developed a recent habit of hiring artists whose work, in my eyes, is atrocious.
So, to that end, I’d made an effort to expand to other publishers and even other work in Marvel and DC that I hadn’t considered tackling in my youth.
At Wondercon, I bought this:
Valiant Comics’ Shadowman is the work of creative team Justin Jordan and Patrick Zircher. Unlike DC and Marvel, I know next to nothing about Valiant Comics’ universe. What made me pick up Shadowman was in the cover above. Shadows? Demonic looking creatures? Death? Action? Count me in!
And so I read it.
Shadowman is pretty decent, in my opinion. Jordan really hits the ground running in storytelling. We get a sufficient background into Jack Boniface’s parents just prior to his birth, and the fate of his parents. Nothing was terribly obvious, except for the sacrifice inherent in Jack’s family history, and the power he was going to inherit.
Years later, we quickly see Jack as a charismatic, yet somewhat guarded, young man. He works at a museum, but he’s not a curator. I don’t think it’s clearly stated what his occupation is. And I don’t know why Jordan had me wondering this minor detail, haha. But it’s a curious thing, nonetheless.
The stage is set when Jack throws away a keepsake of his father’s, an amulet that concealed his presence from the forces that have hunted him for his entirely life. And from there, the action just pours out of the storyline.
Now, I’ve seen some strange mess in comics, but a talking monkey in a realm of the dead? That made me raise my eyebrows, and not in a bad way. It was a funny quirk that adds even greater mystery to the series. The monkey seems duplicitous to me, at least at the end of Volume 1. I look forward to seeing what his history and motivations are, because none of that was made clear.
The cast introduced in Shadowman each seemed to have had their own personal histories set, so character background was minimal. Which is fine, because it’s not their story, so much as it’s Jack’s. Their background need not be so fleshed out so early on. Nonetheless, the supporting cast in Shadowman were portrayed sufficiently and adequately.
You can’t help but be intrigued by what appears to be the primary antagonist in this series, the Brethren, a bunch of middle-aged and old fart businesspeople. It’s obvious they have clout and standing that will be a problem for our Shadowman, but is there more to them, aside from their worshipping a demon?
This all screams cult or religious fanaticism, two things I’ve always been into in literature.
I enjoyed Justin Jordan’s explanation of magic in this series. It’s not too much different from other comics that theorized magic as just another advanced science, but Jordan nonetheless makes it explained well enough in the first volume that even those without scientific backgrounds can understand. We see the magic applied in Volume 1, but it’s clear that Jordan has more in store in terms of the full aspects and understanding of magic, since Shadowman is only just learning his abilities.
Patrick Zircher’s art is nothing earth-shattering to me, but that’s just fine. Zircher shows how effective his art is when aided by Bob Layton’s coloring skills to capture the dark, magical aspect of Shadowman. I’m torn between deciding if the art gives the book a biblical feel, supernatural feel, or a horror aspect. Perhaps it’s all, or neither of these? Nonetheless, I like it because of its effectiveness.
I’m honestly not sure how I felt about Shadowman. There wasn’t a lot of information given in the first volume. The full explanation of magic, Jack’s past, the backgrounds of his supporting cast and those of the antagonists…that damn monkey in the Deadlands. All we got was a set-up. Is that good enough? It all depends on the delivery. All these things will hopefully get addressed adequately in later issues. Hopefully they will have impact on the character and the Valiant universe.
As a story, I didn’t get a terrible lot from this first volume, but I appreciate the creative team’s obvious set-up of Shadowman’s mythos.