Bloggerinos! Raph here, with another round of reviews for the relaunch of the Valiant Universe. This time, we’re going to look at Archer & Armstrong, Bloodshot and Shadowman! Valiant has been doing an amazing job relaunching these core titles, and I want to highlight these wonderful books. Check out my thoughts after the break.
One of the most beloved and critically acclaimed properties produced by Valiant, Archer and Armstrong is basically a buddy comedy. Obediah Archer has been raised by his parents in a Christian camp cult-like environment to defeat the Great Evil Who Must Not Be Named… Armstrong. Armstrong is your typical 10,000 year old super-strong, nigh-invulnerable immortal, if 10,000 year old super-strong immortals grew on trees. An immortal whose secret is coveted by various secret societies like The Sect or the 1% (Super greedy Wall Street types looking for profit any way they can), or like the one Archer’s parents belong to. The two team up to stop the destruction of the world, immortality falling in the wrong hands and… someone has to be Armstrong’s designated driver right? Fred Van Lente has crafted a story that’s both hilarious and captivating. He successfully taps into the buddy comedy roots but also adds a bit of Highlander panache. Armstrong throws out historical references with hilarity and aplomb, bragging about getting drunk with Michelangelo and inspiring poems about himself. Throw in the beautiful art of Emanuela Lupacchino and you have one of the best books on the shelves. A real treat to read. Volume 1 was just released, and I highly recommend it!
Bloodshot is the a happy medium between superheroes and war stories: the ultimate soldier equipped with nanomachines that increase his strength, reflexes and limited shapeshifting: he’s the ultimate solider, the ultimate killing machine… but what about the man underneath? Project Rising Spirit has created him to serve his government, but they also took away his humanity. Implanting him with false memories, Bloodshot thinks he’s rescuing a brother-in-arms, or going back to a loving wife and kids, but really, there’s nothing. Free from this charade, Bloodshot wants to find out the truth about his life… but he’ll uncover something much bigger. The comic kind of feels like a mashup of Call of Duty and God of War, but the series predates either game franchise. Gamers with itchy trigger fingers might like this series, but beyond the action scenes, there’s a story about a man’s soul underneath it all.Duane Swiercynski has done a great job writing this series, and exploring the humanity of a supposed killing machine. Can you still be human, even if every aspect of your humanity is a lie? Bloodshot explores all of this, as well as providing action and suspense. With the upcoming Harbinger Wars crossover, expect more blood and guts to fly, but also some more questions about morality and identity.
The last of the 2012 relaunch books, Shadowman takes an interesting route. Shadowman is the only main character of the relaunch to not have his powers based on science (war suits, nanomachines, mysterious alien tech and latent psychic potential are the primary purveyors of powers). Shadowman is Jack Boniface, whose father Josiah died in the line of duty as Shadowman. What is Shadowman? He is the man who stands between our world and the Deadside, a dimension of dead souls and a gateway to other dimensions. He also has to watch out for Master Darque, a man who has gained vast and terrible powers and wants to show the world just how vast and terrible they are. People get put into positions they don’t expect and thrust into roles they have no idea even existed… what do you do when you’re the only defender against a realm of darkness and magic? You step up, because there’s no one else to. That makes for a compelling argument for our Shadowman. Doctor Strange has a slew of Avengers to call in, Doctor Fate has the Justice Society… Jack Boniface doesn’t even have a doctorate, only his new mentor Dox and his student Alyssa. Justin Jordan, writer of the excellent Luthor Strode series, is writing another gem of a series here, one that might be a bit under the radar, but that’s why I’m here bloggerinos! This is definitely a book you should be checking out.
That’s it for now. Valiant has come out of the gates strong, all 5 titles are good enough to rival that of any of the other companies, that includes the Big Two. The talent they’ve put together is impressive, and the work that results from it is proof. All of their first volumes are also available for $9.99, so you can try out these books with a minimum of investment! How can you go wrong with that? Next week, I’ll be wrapping up our Valiant coverage with some interviews over at the Valiant offices! Until next time–
“I think that’s a bernoose”