Sunday, April 13, 2014

The H.A.R.D. Corps #1 and #2 (Classic Valiant)

A corporate strike team empowered with the abilities of mutants known as Harbingers are tasked with taking out installations over the globe of multi-billionare Toyo Harada, a malevolent Harbinger who wants to take over the world. Together, Gunslinger, Hammerhead, Shakespeare, Superstar, and Flatline are...The HARD Corps!...

Lo and behold, my favourite of all Valiant comics! Though this is one series that did get off to a bit off a bumpy start.

The story in Issue #1 is decent. It starts off starts off in the thick of a battle, with what the HARD Corps do best, and once that's over, potential new recruit Sam Kim is briefed on what the Corps is, who its personnel are, and what its enemies are, and then more action-y stuff occurs. There's not exactly a deep story being told this time round, but it's definitely serviceable (and tells enough for its short length). Just not as great as future issues of this series.

The characters aren't very well developed here. They're not just faceless goons, and it at least gets across Shakespeare's personality a bit, but otherwise, we don't find out much. Sam Kim is introduced here, and the artwork for him is very different to what he looks like in all following issues. I suppose he could be construed as looking like a racist caricature here, so it was changed accordingly.



Then there's short-lived team member Maniac-As the kind of guy who, while in a battle, fires his machine gun randomly in the air screaming "DEATH FROM ABOVE!!!", he sure lives up to his namesake. He's cannon fodder, not hugely developed, and barely lasts seven pages. This isn't his first appearance though, as he was with the team during their first appearance, in other Valiant Comics series Harbinger. I haven't read those issues, so I'm not sure how his character was there.

The artwork, while decent, is pretty cluttered at times. At its worst, there are times where you can't tell where the characters are, or what exactly is happening. Thankfully this issue is only present in the first few pages. This issue is definitely more liney than later issues, though that's not a bad thing here, as the artwork is good.

This issue makes good use of splash pages. It uses two, and neither of them deprive the story of much-needed panels, and both are effective in what they convey (although the first one only partially in that respect, as the artwork there is a bit hard to gauge).

Issue #2 feels like it should have been compressed to ten/fifteen pages, and added to #1, to make it one complete story, because there's no real story being told here other than 'The Harbinger Foundation are attacking the HARD Corps, and the team get vengeance for Maniac on Big Boy'. It wouldn't be too bad if these issues were released, say, a week apart from each-other, but comic issues are released monthly, so HARD Corps wasted two months on a pretty nothing story. That must have been pretty annoying if you were reading these when they came out! Thankfully HARD Corps gets better, and is able to tell entertaining, complete, stories, with plenty of character development to boot!

The only real stupid part of either of the two issues is when, in the fight with powerful Harbinger Big Boy, Shakespeare is in his fatal grip, but has invulnerability on. He's fine-ish, but to use the power he needs to take down Big Boy, he needs to have invulnerability switched off first. What's stupid is that he waits 'till after his invulnerability is switched off until he tells Softcore* which power he wants next! Dumbass!

*She's the mission control, who's also responsible for the activation/deactivation of the team's powers, which can only be used one at a time.

Also, the medical team who revive Sam for HARD Corps refer to it as a cartel. What?! No it's not! And even if it is, that is not the word you want to use when the person you're trying to recruit is a cop!

One last thing, I'm frankly surprised that neither police, or government agents have suspicions about the Harbinger Foundation, given its propensity of getting invaded in broad daylight by heavily armed strike teams. It also doesn't even make sense for there to be a Harbinger Foundation anymore after all the damage the HARD Corps have and will inflict. Soon enough, villain Toya Harada's gonna be a penniless bum, selling recycled bottles to fund his schemes for world domination.

I recommend HARD Corps Issues #1 and #2 if you want to read everything the series has to offer, but my personal recommendation is to just start with #3, as it's where things start getting great, and it works as a first issue too.

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