Monday, June 16, 2014
Secret Weapons #5 (Classic Valiant)
Oh boy, this series just isn't getting better, is it!
Superpowered friends Eddie 'Stronghold' Sedgewick, Amanda 'Livewire' McKee, and Geoff McHenry, discover an arms shipment in Estonia spearheaded by evil supervillain Toyo Harada, and head over to stop it, collecting the help of opposing arms dealer and ninja Ninjak...
This issue is decent, but not very good. The writing is supremely better than the previous two, which isn't saying a whole lot. It has many problems, like how it makes repeated mention of Toyo Harada (recurring villain in Valiant Comics' shared universe), when neither he, nor any of his underlings are ever seen, to the point where it's confusing as to what he even has to do with this arms deal.
Series mainstay Gilad (Valiant superhero Eternal Warrior) is absent, and of course he is, as he could have only fixed this issue's conflict easily! And again, another Valiant character guest stars and takes the spotlight from the regulars. It's like there was an editor deliberately trying to sabotage Secret Weapons. Maybe it was meant to be a failure, ala The Producers.
Strongold, Livewire, and Geoff again don't get much to do. While guest star Ninjak is fighting the leader of an evil cult, and blowing up the whole evil base, ending the nefarious arms threat, mankind's secret weapons are just breaking out of a cell. I wish I was joking! Hell, their arrival on the scene is what got Ninjak caught in the first place, so simply by being in this story, the main characters make things worse! Take out these superfluous characters, and you could easily rename this Ninjak #1! Plus, the way they even find out what's going on is pretty contrived.
Speaking of the world's worst named ninja, Ninjak isn't quite a walking cliche, but still not written very well. He's your typical ''Honourable ninja fighting injustice, and battling evil'. He's definitely presented as being much more honourable and likeable-ish here than he was in Bloodshot #6-7 (where he mind-raped a quitting employee), which I attribute to better writing...though it's still inconsistent.
The villain of this issue is Ninjak's arch-nemesis Scratch. After years of conflict, these bitter rivals are finally about to engage in the final showdown!...But who the hell is Scratch? Yep, the character of Scratch, Ninjak's supposed longtime enemy neither appeared, nor was mentioned at any point before this issue, and never appeared again, as he's dispatched extremely quickly-In a small 1-panel montage! He's an ok villain, but doesn't appear nearly enough, nor does he do much. His first scene is decent, although that's more down to the dialogue of his associate.
The art style is different from the rest of the series, just like #4, although thankfully it's a bit better drawn this time round. There are a couple of annoying little things, like it taking two whole pages just to show Ninjak driving up to a truck and jumping on in. And there's one pointless establishing long-shot of a skyscraper in the middle of a conversation. As for the cover, it's decent.
The dialogue is sometimes clunky and oftentimes confusing-There's one moment when Ninjak randomly says "Danger to the left of me...Danger to the right of me" when running from security guards. That's it. It sounds like it's going to lead to him making a Stealers Wheel reference, but it doesn't. He says one out of place line, then nothing. And there's also lots of unrealistic exposition dialogue, which would be much better suited as thoughts. Of course, I don't think Classic Valiant even knew what thought bubbles are, as there are repeated moments in their series' where characters verbalise what they should instead be thinking.
Like I said, this is nowhere near as bad as issues #3 and #4, but Secret Weapons is still an extremely poor series, and reading it is not recommended in the slightest. I'm not looking forwards to the upcoming issues, but hey, once at the bottom, there's no other direction than up, isn't there?...