Monday, February 18, 2013

New Release Reviews For Valiant Entertainment, for 18 February, 2013

Welcome back to another New Release Reviews on this most cloudy, and overcast, President's Day (in Los Angeles, anyway.) Not only are we here to celebrate the 44 presidents of these United States Of America, we're also reviewing two new releases from Valiant Entertainment.

Much like the second term of President Obama, Valiant has had a second term of greatness with its relaunch last year. I doubt anyone counts Acclaims' failed relaunch. We sure don't. What we do count are the the two releases this week. As always … titles are scored on a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being the very best possible. We take the time to read these books so your time isn't wasted.

Archer And Armstrong - Issue 7

Everything joyous about this series stems from relationships. Like any good story, interpersonal motivations should drive things and the creative team does an outstanding job with this. The first one is between the title characters. it started off strained but has developed  into a great buddy story. They don't always agree but they've got each other's backs.

What's driving this current arc is the relationship between Gilad and Armstrong, two brothers with enormous history as they're both immortal. Much of this is fighting, as siblings are want to do. There is a lot of banter which is entertaining but there is a shared collective sense of sadness. The fighting seems to be a result of the way they each choose to deal with the sadness.

The comic isn't just arguments and bromance but it's exciting, as well. Sort of. Each of these characters are extremely powerful, including the new Geomancer. Even Archer, the seemingly least powerful, appears to have some great destiny. Armstrong doesn't seem to do much fighting as he mostly stands around.

Gilad seems to be the most dangerous and powerful which, by himself, seems kind of boring. The real importance of the Geomancer is a way of dealing with his unstoppability. Having someone to protect who isn't indestructible gives the story some much needed tension.

This issue continues the theme of humor. The sudden direction change while driving had me in tears, I laughed so hard. The banter is very funny. Yet, there is a lot of nice bits of history smushed into the back-story that makes the story seem engaging and well thought out. Probably the only complaint is Gilad's costumes is so odd. The cliffhanger is very mysterious. The cover has more of the s ries humor and is well designed, though the blurb on the cover is a bit much. Interior artwork is generally excellent.

Score: 8.5 out of 10

Bloodshot - Issue 8

This issue continues to feel like a bridge point between the character's origins and when he can finally get on with his story. It's not so much a knock as it is an observation. It seems more intent to with establishing his world and the havoc Project Rising Sun has caused. Who he is seems meaningless as he has all these imbedded personalities and none seem him.

Perhaps the creators will continue to play with this. Or, perhaps, they'll decide on one path allowing the hero to emerge. Right now he switches between unstoppable killing machine bent on revenge and then bewildered man child. This leaves things a bit dull as he comes off more reactive that assertive. This shifting, also, prolongs story-elements that probably could have been resolved in half the time.

A good hero has good villains and Bloodshot is no different. Because of that, he gets an incomplete mark. Most of the bad guys are pretty much one note. One of the cyborg things has a moment with some depth and it remains to be seen whether they do anything with this. The best (worst?) is Gamma, who is very disturbing and there is implication that she's abusive, especially given Pulse's reaction.

The kids are the area of most interest, even if they're rather one-dimensional now. It's not the creative team's fault given how many there are. Plus, it seems like they're going to be the focal point of the Harbinger crossover. Each one is an arch-type but has a second characteristic of being afraid of or hating Bloodshot.

The issue has a violent, disturbing cover with some very strange anatomy of the characters in it. Much of this goes  beyond the general eeriness of the villains. Unlike the Archer And Armstrong cover blurb, this issue's blurb is stretching things quite a bit. I like the inside cover is recap and the how credits are squeezed into first panel. Helpful for new readers. The interior art is fine but nothing spectacular.  The coloring is a bit flat but alright.

Score: 7.5 out of 10

Decent week from Valiant. Archer And Armstrong is the high mark but even Bloodshot is pretty good. Especially given it's prelude to the Harbinger Wars. We'll be back in a week or two with some New Release Reviews for Valiant Entertainment.