Welcome back to another edition of New Release Reviews for Valiant Entertainment. Or welcome to the company with big crossover events as Harbinger Wars formally kicked off this month. Plus, don't forget about Planet Death which is going on in X-O Manowar. Two of the three books we look at this week are tied in to one another. The third, Shadowman, seems happy away from all the rest of things, though since Master Darque is involved, it's only a matter of time.
Three new releases. Three new reviews. 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
Harbinger Wars - Issue 1 (of 4)
This is the first part of the official Harbinger Wars series, though Bloodshot and Harbinger tie into this book. It's interesting to see what they're doing with these three series. Each one is a slightly different perspective that tells the story but each one adds nuance and layers. What this really seems to be about is the conflict between Toyo Harada and Project Rising Sun (PRS) with the Renegades and Bloodshot as pawns. Pawns maybe of the Bleeding Monk, but it's not completely clear.
The biggest point in this story is how PRS took advantage of the young Psiots to do their dirty work. It's fairly horrific how the children are used and controlled. What it doesn't do is explain what happens to the kids when they grow up. Everything shown helps explain the kids' desire to escape. I still can't imagine why PRS would this is a good idea given how powerful the kids are.I guess their bad-judgement carries over into creating Bloodshot.
The opening recap of events is very useful and well presented. The interior artwork is solid, and has painting-like moments. Its got a great style and design with fantastic coloring, though the colors differ from the other Valiant comics. There are a few spots where the overall detail is soft. The cover is cool and exciting though also violent. And maybe a few spots could use some touching up.
Score: 8 out of 10
Shadowman - Issue 6
This series seems to be doing a much better job of setting up the villains than the heroes. The good guys are as vague and floating as they were in the prior five issues. Shadowman bounces between confused and angry and it doesn't seem to be getting better. And his allies barely help as they continuously seem to be explaining things going on around him. This makes him very passive. Except when he's smashing up the drug ring involving kidnapped children's nightmare. How this situation came about isn't clear. What is clear is it lead to punching and smashing.
The most interesting stuff involved Samedi and his acolyte. The acolyte, in particular, had a tough choice to make in his worship. Easily the most gripping aspect of the story. Right behind was Samedi's possible switch in allegiance. Shadowman's sequence talking to his mom seemed silly. And the sudden appearance of Dr. Mirage had just about zero impact. The overall story is way too mysterious for its own good.
The recap for this issue was helpful, as well. Kudos to Valiant for making this a regular thing in their comics. Definitely helps with new readers. The look of this series is great. There is enormous detail in the art as well as excellent facial expressions. Colors are rich and moody and the inking is perfect for the themes. The covers are fun and exciting.
Score: 8 out of 10
Harbinger - Issue 11
This issue did two important things. One, it delved into history between Project Rising Sun (PRS) and Toyo Harada. In fact, it was an extremely interesting exploration of the groups and how they seemed to maybe be working together in the past. Obviously, things fell apart but it's not clear when it did. The other thing was an expansion of the Bleeding Monk and how heavily he's influencing events.
The worst thing about this story is show just how awful the Renegades are. Torque is insecure and kind of a bully. Flamingo is poorly defined but presented as having loose morals. Even Pete is still kind of a douche. Only Zephyr seems to have any decency and that still seemed rooted more in naivete. They're really not very sympathetic. Honestly, Harada still comes across as the better person in this issue.
This issue continues the Harbinger Wars and was fairly interesting. It still has the great recap all the other Valiant comics seem to have. The artwork is solid in this issue. It feels very much like an 80s comic. There's great detail and good coloring. The cover is messed up with Harada destroying Bloodshot's face. It's a cool image and it says all sorts of things about both characters.
Score: 7 out of 10
Not a bad week for reviews from Valiant Entertainment. Everything was good. Not sure if any are must-haves on their own. But, taken within the context of the great continuity, they're useful so that counts for something. Stop on back soon for more New Release Reviews for the Valiant Entertainment universe.