Valiant (Re)visions: Shadowman #16, X-O Manowar #23 and Harbinger: Bleeding Monk #0 [Review]

By and | March 19th, 2014
Posted in Reviews | % Comments

David: It’s our first three review week since you returned Brandon. I hope you ate your Wheaties this week, because you’ll need it to get through this gauntlet.

Let’s start with a book I’ve been pretty down on lately, and that’s Shadowman #16 from Peter Milligan and Roberto de la Torre. This ends the first arc from Milligan and de la Torre, and I am very curious as to where you stand on this book at arc’s end. So, whatcha got for me?

Brandon: You know, I was a lot more down on this book initially because the story just seemed to come out of nowhere. It was really confusing because I wasn’t certain as to how we got to that point. As time goes on I have become less confused because I have decided to just roll with the book and let it play out. I’d say that overall I have not loved this initial arc because it has been a little dry but I actually thought this issue was a step in the right direction. It wasn’t my favorite Valiant title of the week but it also established where we go from here finally. (Except the whole rebranding/renumbering they seemed to preview at the end which confused me to a degree). What did you think?

David: I really, really disliked it. Honestly, I felt like I had no connection with what was going on with the Tremble Loa, the MacMullen solution was the most ridiculous Lifetime movie of a deus ex machina, everything with Alyssa felt completely forced, and how the hell do they not rage on the Abettors after they try and kill Jack? Afterwards, they just hang out and are like, “wasn’t that hilarious when we tried to kill you two issues ago?” It just didn’t make any sense to me, and then you end it with Josiah apparently being alive – whose death kicked off this series – and I’m all scrunchy faced and confused.

It doesn’t help that de la Torre’s work was messy beyond words, regardless of how alluring the coloring was by David Baron. This was a very hard to read book, for me.

So I’m curious, besides your change in how you approached it, what do you think it was about this issue that made it better than the rest of the arc?

Brandon: For me it was better because I actually thought the art was much tighter here. Still not my favorite style but I thought it was fairly clear what was happening which wasn’t the case with some parts of the previous issue. I also felt that, even if it wasn’t the best issue, it at least gives us a status quo for the book. We know who the players are.

Now, I would entirely agree with the resolution with McMullen was weak and I also can’t imagine a scenario where I wouldn’t kill the abettors who whipped the shit out of me and overall aimed to end my shit. That’s pretty ridiculous. Like I said, it’s a step in the right direction. That direction being away from this arc. I didn’t think this was a great or even good issue just an issue that made some progress. Which is more than any of the previous issues.

David: Instead of discussing this further, let’s talk about why that’s weird, which you already mentioned. The next bit is coming in the “End Times” mini-series, which according to everything said about it is a “perfect introduction to Peter Milligan’s sinister new direction for Shadowman!” (That was from Valiant’s press release) Given that they’ve started to finally get a direction, do you have any clue why they’d have a new direction with the new team right after their opening arc? Isn’t that a bizarre choice?

Brandon: It’s as bizarre as Dennis Rodman thinking he could open up diplomatic channels with N. Korea. The whys of it are just as confusing as well. I just honestly don’t get it. How many restarts do you need?

David: As many as it takes Brandon. As many as it takes.

I forgot to mention, was the moment where Jack turned the tables on the Tremble Loa directly lifted from the Matrix or was it just me? He’s in Deadside with his spirit having left his body, and Alyssa says she loves him and that pushes him to get the W. HE IS THE CHOSEN ONE!

Continued below

Brandon I have pretty much blacked out ever bit of Matrix after the first movie. I imagine this arc will be remembered in a similar fashion. So yeah it is kind of like the Matrix for me I suppose. Just in a different way.

What would you rate this little guy?

David: Well, that was in the first movie, but agreed.

I’ll give it a 3.0. A very painful read on all accounts for me. It was like the pages of the issue were made out of the screaming whip for me. What would you give it?

Brandon: I’d give the issue a 4.5. Not the best of issues.

So next on the docket we have Harbinger: The Bleeding Monk #0 written by Joshua Dysart and art from Khari Evans. I know after you read this you meditated and thought on this issue while bleeding everywhere. So what are your thoughts?

David: My thoughts-non-thoughts, you mean?

You know, I’d say I generally liked this. It wasn’t amazing, and I’m not sure ultimately how valuable a story this will prove to be – save for perhaps introducing the weapon that will lead to his downfall – but I thought it made the Bleeding Monk a good bit more interesting by providing some level of perspective on him. Also, given that there were actually four artists on this issue, I felt like they deployed them in intelligent fashion, giving each a timeline to call their own. That allowed each artist to work without screwing each other up, and it made the issue work far better.

It felt kind of strange to be getting this now, but it likely just shows us that this character is just going to increase in importance. I also like the subtle implication that maybe – just maybe – Peter is one the that the Monk has been waiting for, not Harada. In that regard, it adds value to the mythological elements of this story.

What did you think?

Brandon: I was very bored with this issue. It wasn’t awful but it really wasn’t interesting either. I had a hard time accepting that this was an important issue at all. With some of Valiant’s other issues, like Shadowman #0, it is very easy to see how it is important to the overall narrative. Or they are just outright enjoyable issues like Shadowman #0 and the first Bloodshot #0 with AfroShot. This wasn’t really either. It just kind of was.

David: I could see that. I thought it worked pretty well at building the character though, and ultimately, its biggest struggle is it only will prove its value later, and for now it was a decent but not amazing issue.

But hey, at least for this one, the split the art duties pretty well, right? Right?

Brandon: Yes, they did a solid job of that. At no point was I distracted by it. So much so that I really didn’t know they split artists until you said they did!

David: You know, sometimes I wonder, is it worse for a comic to make you feel nothing, or for it to be a negative experience? I guess in the latter regard, at least it made you feel something.

Brandon I wouldn’t say it is better for it to be a bad comic than an indifferent comic if you are a reader but if you are reviewing the book it’s actual better to be horrendous than bland.

David: That’s true. Well, let’s not delay this any longer. What would you give this…not even bad boy. Mediocre boy.

Brandon: I guess i’d give it a 5. It’s not bad but it isn’t great. It just kind of exists. Maybe that was what they were going for. Meditative tranquility.

David: I’ll give it a 6.0. I liked it more than you did, but it certainly wasn’t anything special. It lays some good foundation and I liked the character work, but it isn’t anything that’s worth a strong grade, that’s for certain.

Lastly, we have X-O Manowar #23 from Robert Venditti and Diego Bernard, and this is the beginning of the prelude to Armor Hunters. This book has been getting major props for me, but much of that was tied to Cary Nord’s incredible art. In your opinion, does the party keep on going with Bernard on art?

Continued below

Brandon Firstly, I have no clue what Armor Wars is going to be about but I did enjoy the issue. I enjoyed the space based destruction and death. I also was intrigued by the villain seemingly rocking a slightly fucked up version of Aric’s armor. Where did it get that?! That alone got my interest piqued. How about you?

David: Well, Armor Hunters is the next big thing at Valiant and specifically for X-O. It was in all those Valiant Firsts teasers they put together, and it’s going to be laden with chromium covers. It looks pretty awesome, but it expands on the idea that Aric’s armor isn’t the only one.

Which this issue – which was good – started up. I thought it was really solid though, and as you said, the space-based battle was really great, and I love how they continue to incorporate the field of Vine related gear into the plot. It makes a lot of sense that governments (like the Chinese crew) would be up there scavenging for tech, and incorporating that into the super jacked up armor monster who visited them made it even more interesting.

Diego Bernard, while not as much my cup of tea as Nord, did a good job here, really selling moments as disparate as the battle in space and Aric mooning M.E.R.O. The new status quo is really working, and if they can keep the art as strong as this, it will maintain its spot as my second favorite Valiant book right now.

I can’t believe I just typed those words, Brandon.

Brandon The readers and I appreciate your explaining Armor Wars! That does sound awesome!

I also think the art was well done here. I didn’t feel it was a big departure, quality wise, from Nord. I feel like if Nord needs a break Bernard would be great as a permanent fill in. I also would agree that this is easily in the top three from Valiant for me. This book was once rather maligned by us but flipped some time ago and since that time has not looked back. This is title is consistently entertaining.

David: It’s Armor HUNTERS. You’re killing me, smalls!

And yeah, the script has certainly been flipped on this book, and I’m glad it has. Once it found its identity, this book became good in a hurry. I only hope it keeps that going.

Anything else to add before we grade this?

Brandon Yes yes, Armor Hunters. No similarity here between Armor Wars…

Nothing else to add for me. I’d give the issue a 7.5! You?

David: I can dig that. This wasn’t an amazing issue, but it was quite good. I can dig that for sure.

//TAGS | Valiant (Re)visions

David Harper

David Harper mainly focuses on original content, interviews, co-hosting our 4 Color News and Brews video podcast, and being half of the Mignolaversity and Valiant (Re)visions team. He runs Multiversity's Twitter and Facebook pages, and personally tweets (rarely) @slicedfriedgold. By day, he works in an ad agency in Anchorage, Alaska, and he loves his wife, traveling and biscuits & gravy (ordered most to least, which is still a lot).


Brandon Burpee

Burpee loves Superheroes, Alaskan IPA, 90's X-Men and is often one more beer away from a quotable.


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