There are a lot of comics out there, but some stand out head and shoulders above the pack. With “Don’t Miss This,” we want to spotlight those series we think need to be on your pull list. This week, we’re spotlighting “Armorclads,” one of Valiant’s newest comics. Mech lovers, rejoice
Who’s this by?
There are various different combinations of writer/artist pairs in the world of comics. Sometimes you have two unknowns who, through grit and comradery, have built a meticulous, unique world all their own. Sometimes you have two veterans, coming together for a passion project or a big title, throwing around their clout to build something magnificent. These are where some of the best comics get made. However, Let’s introduce a third archetype into the paradigm: that of an established artist and relatively unknown, newcomer writer. In this combination, you have the vision and intrepid attitude of a a newcomer paired with the veteran’s ability to shape the magic, and make it tangible. The results tend to be excellent, and “Armorclads” is one such comment. The newcomer here is JJ O’Connor, whose identity has almost become a meme in the comics world. Needless to say, we don’t know much about him. Perhaps it’s a pseudonym or secret identity and we’re all about to be bamboozled, perhaps at the time of this publication the mystery man will have been unmasked; who’s to say. What we can say is that Brian Buccellato needs no introduction, and the DC mainstay has worked on a ton of comics. You can get a taste of his work on Superman, The Exterminators, The Flash, and a lot more.
What’s this all about?
“Armorclads” is a full fledged sci-fi battle mech romp, but with a lot of brain to go with its brawn. More on that later. To start, here’s what you need to know. “Armorclads” takes place somewhere in a distant future in a distant place, somewhere in our galaxy but so foreign that it could be anywhere. Humans have settled a planet named Xeru (an already ominous sounding name) and they’re there to harvest Pure, the name of an ur-mineral that seems part Spice part Unobtanium. Details about the substance slowly get revealed, but what’s important is that this stuff is important, and humans need it to travel the stars and continue humanity’s expansion. However, it’s worth noting in “Armorclads” that humanity is not united against an alien threat or anything like that. Bitter factions fight amongst each other, and herein the conflict lies. To keep up with the desire for Pure, the powers at be have genetically engineered a worker class of humans who work double-time in optimized exoskeletal mech suits (the Armorclads in question) that help them mine efficiently while staying alive against the not so friendly fauna and the haphazard hazardous waste or accident. In Space, OSHA definitely can’t hear you scream. “Armorclads” kicks off for real when the workers begin to rebel and take things into their own hands. What follows is a mech story that’s part wilderness survival in a strange world, part social upheaval, part cosmic mystery.
So why should I read this?
Look, “Armorclads” isn’t perfect. The characters are interesting enough, but the story feels larger than all of them, and it certainly has its fair share of tropes. Okay, so why should read this, you may ask. Well, here’s the thing — “Armorclads” does a really good job of mixing up the story to tell a relatively unique and attention-grabbing story. We’re used to Gundam style, interstellar, monster battling mechs, get in the robot Shinji mechs. We know these mechs. We love these mechs. What “armorclads” does well is use the mech theme in a grittier, more survivalist atmosphere. While the story could escalate to galactic levels, the humble beginnings of the story have made it interesting. We get to watch the Ironclads (the miners) scavenge for materials and weapons over time, upgrading their mechs as they go. It’s a satisfying progression. Also, the art in here is a lot of fun.
Buccellato does a great job making the most of his canvases, as a lot of the visual real estate in “Armorclads” gets dedicated to large fights, explosions, and other tomfoolery of a kinetic variety. Despite the futuristic setting, Buccellato keeps his art somewhere in the middle of the realism and impressionism spectrum, drawing high end technology in a simple way. Overall, “Armorclads” is a breeze to read through but still full of plot, lore, and compelling action.
How can I read this?
“Armorcalds” #4, the penultimate issue of the current story, releases on June 22nd wherever comics are sold.