Valiant (Re)visions is back with a look at the latest event comic from Valiant and the continued story of the protector of New Japan.
Armor Hunters #2
Written by Robert Venditti
Illustrated by Doug Braithwaite
Event comics are a tricky thing. Typically they’re so big and sprawling that they can get unwieldy fast, so the key is to emphasize a few elements to keep the story streamlined, maximizing the awesome and minimizing the clutter in the process. Valiant really seems to understand this, as both Harbinger Wars and this event started very strong. The former didn’t really stick its landing, but through two parts, Armor Hunters is really showing the gifts of creators like Venditti and Braithwaite, while highlighting the overall vision at Valiant as a whole.
This issue touches on a lot of fronts – Aric’s people in Nebraska, Ninjak and Gilad in London, Livewire and Bloodshot at M.E.R.O.’s HQ, and a look in on the Armor Hunters themselves are featured in an issue with enormous reach – but it never feels weighted down by the heavily split focus. Venditti actually manages to flow them into each other so well that it feels befitting the story, and he wisely pushes the pieces together so they actually play into each other. This is a book that is well plotted, but it finds time for some iconic action movie style moments.
That’s one of the strangest things about Valiant events at their best. They feel like the parts we love of blockbuster action movies, and by the time the last panel hits us, we’re fist pumping and ready for the next issue. Venditti and Braithwaite work very well together, and a lot of that comes from Braithwaite’s gifts in telling stories. It doesn’t matter the moment – badass mega poses from action gods, Aric making his presence felt, Capshaw’s struggles with the weight of the world, you name it – this is a book that is heightened because of some great creative talents being involved. There are some downsides to Braithwaite’s art here, including a very strange floating head and an oddly child-like Livewire in consecutive panels, but for the most part, his ledger is clean.
Armor Hunters has been a rollicking action blast of an event comic that hasn’t lost sight on its identity or its story. Venditti and Braithwaite have delivered another chapter that pushes the story well, but still finds time to thrill us with its action movie DNA. Now, for the hard part. Sticking the landing. I think they’ll nail it, and I’m excited to find out if I’m right.
Final Verdict: 8.0 – this is an event comic
Written by Matt Kindt
Illustrated by Clayton Crain
Rai as a book is something that I’ve been a little 50/50 on so far. The ideas as a whole remind me of a lot of sci-fi stories I’ve read before, and the story overall hasn’t flowed perfectly, but there has been something there throughout that keeps me hooked. A lot of that is Clayton Crain’s art, who is at a career best point right now on this book. It’s an artist finding the perfect project for himself while simultaneously taking his work to the next level, and his slick, computer driven art feels perfectly at home in New Japan. In this issue, he levels up even more, with one two-page spread being one of the most awe inspiring action sequences I’ve read in a comic in some time. It’s not only the polished beauty of his art, but his storytelling has improved dramatically from earlier in his career. The energy flows throughout thanks to how well he’s laying out sequences and the actions within.
But Kindt, in this issue specifically, made some serious strides in two hugely important things: world building and developing Rai as a character. New Japan’s different districts are getting touched on heavily here, and they come out fully realized thanks to Kindt and Crain’s abilities as storytellers. Even beyond that, we get further insight into the movers and shakers, and it’s really fascinating seeing “Unity” villain Dr. Silk get such action as an important player here. We also can see spider webs moving out into other areas of the Valiant universe, and it does this book some serious favors. But Kindt’s work with Rai is the masterstroke, and by tearing down his “father” and introducing his mother, we’re getting into the guts of who he really is as his world crumbles around him.
Overall, it’s a fascinating story in a unique, glossy package. It also is pretty freaking rad in parts, especially in the more action heavy moments. Kindt and Crain are really, truly building a world here, and while it’s not all the way there, the foundation is enticing enough that we can’t help but be hooked as readers. More of this, and we could be on our way to another Valiant great.
Final Verdict: 7.5 – another step in the right direction for Rai