Friday, March 8, 2013

New Release Reviews for Valiant Entertainment, for 8 March, 2013

Welcome back to another edition of New Release Reviews for Valiant Entertainment. This week we cover two issues that came out two weeks ago (sorry,sorry) and on that was released on the 6th of March. I feel that some of these books are a little to ambitious in these long term plans and the individual stories suffer a little bit.

Everything has been building up for this Harbinger Wars and story suffered. Once those events get going, I'm hoping things improve. 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.

Shadowman - Issue 5

The big news from Valiant, and this issue, was the return of Dr. Mirage. The actual news is that she's an Asian woman and not an Asian man who is dead with an African-American wife. It's not really big news but it's a bit of a change. Similar to what they did different with the Geomancer. I guess they're just trying to mix stuff up which is good. She seems tough which could make for good stories. Her outfit seems a bit off when working with police.

The bad about this issue was women getting hurt and killed. The first example is the "hero" of the story, Shadowman, deciding to go for pancakes. And then his favorite waitress gets murdered because he was there. Seriously. Death by pancakes. Then there's the bit with Dr. Mirage and serial murderer of women. Young girls, perhaps, as their ages seem young. Disappointing.

Characters are all over the place. Shadowman is whiny and self-centered. His allies are consumed with guilt and are very verbose about it. There's a new guy running around and all he does is punch and shoot. The violence with these characters is bloody and abrupt. The story is at it's best when it deal with the mysticism of New Orleans and the Deadside. Master Darque seems perfectly menacing. the cover enhances this and the interior does it no insult.

Score: 7.5 out of 10

Harbinger  - Issue 9

As she dominates the cover, Faith/Zephyr dominates this story. Much of the issue gets into some of her back story. Her history is a mixed bag. It is useful in explaining how she ended up the way she did. This isn't about her weight but her fangirl/fantasy view on existence. There is some believability in her shutting the world out to deal with her loss. On the other hand, it doesn't seem all the original and you can see where the writer had a lit of points to cover and they just ticked one off after another.

Even still, Faith is the most engaging character in this series. Everyone else is either flat or kind of unappealing. Peter is the next closest in complexity but he still resonates like a passive douche-bag. There is no cohesion to this grouping, even though they went through the effort of recruiting them. And the villains are just cliched. All the conversation is more monologue than communication.

It's not clear if it's the art or story but there is a dirty feel to things. The interior art is, overall, fairly excellent. There is a great deal of coloring and layouts/designs are solid and fluid. The coloring is the best part of things as it's bright and high-contrast. The covers match this style, detail, and coloring. Both are like that.

Score: 6.5 out of 10

XO Manowar - Issue 10

This issue is a contrast is emotion. One emotion is sentimental. There is a nice, quiet moment of childhood for Aric and Gafti. It's slightly manipulative as it is designed to add significance to the modern story. It successfully makes the reunion more poignant.This may be the first real emotion we've seen in Aric.

The other emotion is anger, and some of it is justified. The memories of being tortured are horrific and overwhelming for the reader, as they are for Gafti. His anger is real, though, it seems a bit much how angry he is with Aric. The conflict with The Vine is like a war and they're both warriors. They knew what they were getting into. This becomes clear with Gafti's final sacrifice.

The story stalls a bit while they're still dealing with the anger. Though, it does pick up once the fighting starts. Things are a bit ambiguous with Aric's decision to go home. Heading into space doesn't make a lot of sense. The cover is extremely dramatic, even if it's not spectacular in skill. The interior is similar, compared to prior issues.

Score: 7.5 out of 10

Not the best week of reviews. Decent stuff but it's sort of understandable that maybe things slow down a bit. They came out of the gate at full speed. How they pick up from here will show how serious they are beyond marketing.