Posted February 17, 2013 by Dan Spiler in Comics

Valiant Weekly Comic Roundup


This week sees a lot of big stuff happening in the Valiant universe. We’ve got characters coming into their own, new recruits, and some origins too.

Harbinger #8 sees the introduction of a latent psiot named John Torkelson. Poor kid’s a cripple, “toothpicks for legs” as he says. And along comes Stanchek to unlock his power, turning the cripple’s fantasy alter ego “Torquealla”, the baddest dude with all the babes, into a shell for his real self. It’s all pretty rad, until it all goes to hell.

It’s weird how much I’m falling in love with the characters in Harbinger, having only started halfway in. Unlike most superhero comics, these characters seem real. I feel like I’ve come to know them, like a neighbour in the next apartment. And they’re so flawed, you can’t help but root for them. The flashback to the diner, where Kris and Charlene are talking, was a nice bit of background; I often find that other comics do it poorly by either starting from the beginning and taking their sweet time getting there telling you every excruciating detail, or they skip over it and let the reader figure out the good bits.

Harbinger #0 also came out, showcasing the origins (somewhat cryptically) of Harada, the main antagonist of Harbinger.

It’s interesting to see how writers dissect the horrors of war, and weave their characters into it. I don’t want to spoil this, because it’s such fantastic writing, and the visuals are spectacular. Definitely something to pick up in you’re a fan of harbinger, and/or you want to insight into the Valiant universe’s resident bad guy.

X-O Manowar #9 has a lot of action. Punching, kicking, visigoth bad-assitude, it’s all there. Then you have the Vine, who are interesting antagonists, and the first chunk of the issue where the Vine priests were talking was most interesting. I love it when the antagonist isn’t quite so black or white, but a nice shade of grey (I guess that works literally too?).

What X-O Manowar as a story lacks though, is anything more than a vengeance-driven killfest; it’s like watching a Schwarzenegger film. Don’t get me wrong, if that’s your bag, you’re going to love this. I do think character designs are gorgeous, and the idea of yanking angry beefcakes from history to be slaves is interesting and has potential. But I don’t see enough of the how and why; just the fists and the broken corpses littering the scene. It’s not really my thing,  and I think X-O is probably the weakest of the Valiant offerings.

Bloodshot #8 continues Bloodshot’s attack on the Project Rising Spirit facility, and his ‘surprise’ run-in with the kids he doesn’t know he captured. Gamma tames Melissa, and comes a-hollerin for Bloodshot.

I have to say, Bloodshot is easily one of my favorite Valiant works. Each issue raises more questions than it answers, which keeps me wanting to know more. Excellent writing, and there’s something morbidly awesome about a spinal removal, head included. And let’s be honest: while the body-as-a-shell thing was done in Dollhouse and My Own Worst Enemy (remember that show? yeah, you remember), it isn’t treated as a gimmick in Bloodshot. It’s given respect as a literary device (the amnesia part). What I don’t like, however, is the constant reminder that The Kid is little machines in his head. We’re at 8 issues now, I think we get it. If someone is picking this up at this point, they can Google it, or grab the #0 issue when it comes out to understand it. And it’s not like its hard to pick up on either.

Finally, Archer and Armstrong #7  gives us a look at the new Geomancer, Kay McHenry, and her fantastic powers. Like being able to see reality as code and equations. Which only furthers the mystery from the last issue about what exactly is so special about Archer? There’s also that thing with the bad guys called Null. It just gets better and better.

Archer and Armstrong is easily my favorite of all of Valiant’s stuff. It’s like reading an episode of Firefly, it’s that witty and charming. It’s also got a lot going on, with subplots, hidden meanings and foreshadowing, mysteries, the whole shebang. There’s also hints to other pieces of the Valiant universe popping up in Archer and Armstrong, which if I were to fancy a guess, is leading inexorably to Harbinger Wars. And I’m definitely looking forward to that.

If you have a chance to grab any of these, they’re hot off the press already, and next weeks lineup is sure to be spectacular!


Dan Spiler