Monday, June 16, 2014

Secret Weapons #4 (Classic Valiant)

Superpowered Harbinger Eddie 'Stronghold' Sedgewick is going on a date when he's spied by Dr. Laing, an insane scientist obsessed with Harbingers and the superhero Solar. Laing spikes Eddie's drink with a drug that causes his powers to start going haywire. Now uncontrollably absorbing everything he touches and growing to gigantic proportions, Eddie rushes to get help from his friends before things get worse...

This is an improvement on the last issue of Secret Weapons, but it's still not a particularly entertaining read, as is unfortunately the norm for this series.

This isn't so much a story as it is an event. Literally, an event. This one thing happens, and that's it! At least the issue has a prologue which goes a way to developing the villain. It doesn't succeed at all, but I appreciate the thought. Dr. Laing could have even been a recurring villain if the writing was better, and the series didn't reset 11 issues in. Laing never appeared again after this one comic. Maybe he drank too much fluoridated water and died.

The issue's conflict is a decent one on paper, but it's not portrayed effectively. Eddie's absorbing everything he touches (just with his hands, apparently), no matter what, and that would be a huge problem if there wasn't nothing stopping him from just standing out in the open, away from everything. Now, Eddie is a bit dizzy from being drugged, but he's not 'fall unconscious' dizzy, and definitely aware and able enough to not collapse. But no, instead of doing that, he stupidly goes into his friend Amanda's apartment, destroying it, and then goes through a busy park, then escapes into the ocean, where there's nothing but mass to absorb!

I suppose you could say 'What if someone sees him?', but eh, so what. It's not as if the exposure of Harbingers to the media would be a bad thing. Hell, it'd be a good thing for taking down Harbinger supervillain Toyo Harada!

The way the story's problem is resolved is really unsuspenseful. 'Gee, how will we stop Eddie's uncontrollable growing?! I know, let's call Solar!' Problem solved! They just call Solar (Man of the Atom) up, he comes, and fixes everything pretty easily. Not only do this series' own heroes rarely contribute to saving the day, but usually its a guest star from a different series that does!

None of the characters are advanced in the slightest, save from one line from Eddie, where he's shocked at the damage his powers could have done. That doesn't lead to him bettering and understanding his powers more though, so I wouldn't call it legit character development.

The art is pretty bad, and has taken a severe downturn from previous issues. Weird angles abound, people are sometimes in odd positions, facial expressions and eyes are drawn very off, and there are constant brushes of purple and red on faces, as if everyone in the stories has both bad bruising, and a severe case of hayfever. With a grotesquely over-muscled Stronghold, the cover is very Liefeldian, but there's an actual reason for it, so it's no problem.

I don't recommend this issue, nor the rest of the series. Your money could be better spent.

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