Wednesday, August 27, 2014
Superpower action series Harbinger is considered to be one of the best remakes in New Valiant's comic line-up, and with good reason!...
Teenagers Peter Stanchek and Joe Irons are two Mental institution escapees, constantly on the run from the law, and are now back in Pete's home in Philadelphia. Pete always hears voices in his head unless he drowns them out with pills, but unlike the schizophrenic Joe, Pete isn't crazy, but instead has uncontrolled psychic powers. Pete soon finds Kris Hathaway, a girl he loved when he was a kid, and uses his powers to make her fall in love with him when she refutes his interests.
Later, Peter is attacked by a strike team from Project Rising Spirit, a nefarious organization, but is aided by the mysterious Toyo Harada, leader of the Harbinger Foundation. Harada takes Pete under his wing to the Foundation, a place where he helps other people gifted with extraordinary powers. However, Peter soon uncovers the dark side to the Harbinger Foundation and the horrible lengths they're willing to go to remake the world into a 'better place', and rebels...
The plot to Harbinger's first arc is very good, with good characterization, and decent writing! As for its length, unlike other Valiant series Archer and Armstrong, where the first four issues were each simple segments of the one story, Issues #1 to #5 of Harbinger covers a lot more bases, and tells a larger story....However, this series still took nearly six months before the first storyline ended, which is unacceptably wasteful!
The prologue is great! It has a very interesting setting, an intriguing character in the Bleeding Monk, and shows off Harada's devastating Harbinger powers very well.
While the plot moves along mostly fine, there's unfortunately a couple of plot holes-Why didn't the Foundation mind-wipe Kris' memories of Peter, Rising Spirit, and the Harbinger Foundation after the end of Issue #2? To them, she'd be a liability, and it's clear that mind-wiping people is extremely common for them.It also isn't explained how Faith knows to find Pete at the climax or Issue #5, nor is it clear how she even knows he's in trouble, or how she escaped the holding cell dialogue suggested she was being kept in.
Pete Stanchek is a well-written main character, who you can understand, even if you don't necessarily sympathize with, due to the questionable stuff he does, such as using his powers to make Kris fall in love with him. While the series starts in media res, with him already on the run from the police, this isn't too much of a problem, as his backstory (partially touched on) isn't relevant to the series' main plot enough to warrant a full issue going over it.
Toyo Harada is a very good series antagonist. He's an evil son-of-a-bitch, but you can actually see how he considers himself to be a good guy. This is a marked improvement over Classic Valiant, where he was either wasted, or was 'MWUHAHAHAHAHA! evil' despite the series' insistence that he was merely morally ambiguous and not a bad guy per se. The other villains, such as Ion and Hidden Moon are merely ok, while Darpan, the creepy happy kid who can dredge up your worst nightmares is interesting, and the kinder Ingrid is decently written. Project Rising Spirit lackey Mr. Tull has good writing around him, given what Pete's done to him. Harada's seemingly mystical consultant The Bleeding Monk is an interesting and ambiguous character, with a very cool look to him.
Kris Hathaway is a very different character than in Classic Harbinger, where, as I stated in my review of Issues #1 and #2 of that series, the only character to her is that she's Pete's girlfriend. Not all that much happens with Kris this arc beyond Issue #2 though, so that's enough about her.
Joe is likeable, and gets some funny moments, so it's a shame what happens to him.
Faith Herbert-Zephyr-first appears at the end of Issue #3, properly appearing in #4. She doesn't appear a whole lot this arc, but we get a clear look at what her personality is like. As for her appearance, she's obese, which I originally had a problem with, as I can buy a pudgy superhero (such as Faith in Classic Harbinger), but not an obese one. However, I soon found out that part of Faith's powers is weightlessness, so the cardio of life and death superhero struggles isn't quite as much of a problem for her as you'd think at first glance.
Now, onto my sorta-favourite Valiant characters, Stronghold and Livewire. Are they any good here? Does New Valiant do them justice where the Classic company failed?...Well, Stronghold is a villain now, and Livewire's character is radically different.
Are they still well-written characters here though? Not particularly. Eddie's just a Harbinger Foundation lackey, and is near-indistinguishable from Ion, while Livewire has very little to her. Especially problematic is that we don't get to know her long enough for her important decision and reasons for it at the end of this arc to really have any impact on the reader.
As for her appearance compared to Classic Valiant, Livewire is is wildly different, as the redhead Caucasian is now black. On one hand, I don't mind this difference, as I'm not quite enough of a purist to care in this situation...but on the other hand, I really want to see these two Classic Valiant characters done right, and when one of them has had their looks changed so radically, it kinda takes away from what I wanted.
This series wastes Stronghold and Livewire, but at least it doesn't underuse them nearly as much as Secret Weapons, the Classic Valiant series they headlined for a brief period.
The artwork for this series is mostly decent, but really off in places! Faces can be very poorly drawn! Examples are pictured below...
...And no, this is a problem that never goes away! Thankfully this problem doesn't affect all characters, and some faces are more well-defined.
The covers are all pretty good, but #3's is pathetically lazy, as it's just a close-up of Pete's face! As for #1's, and the multitude of speech bubbles, if you're even slightly curious, you'll probably want to read them all. Good luck then! I did, realized I wasted my time, then realized there were more scenes like this in the book itself! Unless you want to take forever to read this arc, just skip 'em.
One layout oddity is that the placement of the issue title are all at the end of their respective comics, not the start.
To finish, Harbinger is a very good series, and a good example of a remake that's better than the source material!...
Thursday, August 21, 2014
Do you miss the days of comics when they were fun, family friendly, and weren't always so depressing and grim and gritty? Then Captain Ultimate is what you want!
Captain Ultimate used to be the best and most famous superhero around, loved by millions for his heroic deeds, but one day, he mysteriously vanished. As the years went by, people slowly forgot him, even starting to think he was just a legend, but one day, a giant robot octopus alien monster attacks Earth, and when young boy Milo bravely stands up against it all alone, Captain Ultimate suddenly appears, fighting the monster off.
As time goes on, and Captain Ultimate stops various threats such as the evil Dr. Destruction, killer alphabet letters, and such, he develops an affinity for Milo, who frequently tags along to help save the day from these events...
#1-The Day the Giant Robot Octopus Alien Monster Attacked the City
This is a hugely satisfying first issue for this series! The writing is good, as is the humour, which playfully pokes fun at various comic genre tropes, mainly the 'grim 'n' gritty' antihero cliche which still abounds so much today. Does this issue tell a particularly large amount of story? No, but it's very entertaining, so like with Trinity Angels #1 and #2, I'll let this slide here.
The only problem this issue has is the sometimes sparse layout, and the amount of splash pages. Because of this, the issue feels a lot shorter than it should.
#2-Destruction! It's What's for Dinner!
This manages to tell a lot more story than the previous issue, partly thanks to the improved layout, and less splash pages, so the issue doesn't fly by quite so quickly.
While his powers are still unclear and vague, Captain Ultimate is a very likeable character, given what he does with the trashed fairground after defeating his nemesis.
The look of the Captain's returning arch-enemy Dr. Destruction (the green motif, and the bulging eye [or monocle, it's hard to tell]) is pretty neat, while he's a simple, entertaining baddie with some hilarious dialogue.
This is definitely a good follow up to the first issue, paving the way for bigger and better things with the rest of the series!
#3-The Super Secret Origin of Captain Ultimate
This issue is one large flashback to the supposed origin of Captain Ultimate, as told to a newspaper editor/manager by an ambitious reporter. It's entertaining, funny, and the characterisation for the young Captain is very good!
The problem I have here is that not only is this issue much shorter than usual length, but also the lack of the series' main characters (besides the younger flashback Captain Ultimate) is a tad annoying.
While it's never explained how this reporter lady knows this story, nor is it clear if this account is even true, it's still a fine origin for the good Captain!
#4-Live Fast, Cry Young
Issue #4 is a Halloween special, and focuses on a mean punk band trying to steal candy from the neighbourhood's children.
The writing, as usual, is good here. Milo continues to be a good, likeable character, something the Captain definitely appreciates in his future sidekick. Superpowered hound Ulti-Mutt (who first appeared in Issue #2) continues to be cute, and we get another appearance by Super Revenging Society member Venus de Muscles, which is the start of character development with her for the better.
#5-Show and Yell
This issue is about killer alphabet letters! That is awesome!
With it's highly amusing concept and hilarious dialogue, this is possibly the funniest issue yet!
The characters are all entertaining as usual, especially the grumpy Grim Avenger, and this issue introduces his daughter, who is both likeable and adorable.
An added bonus to this issue is the great concept posters of the title character at the end.
#6-Santa Wants You to Save Christmas
Next to #5, this is my favourite issue of Captain Ultimate so far! It's got some hilarious moments,
Again, this does go by very quickly, but it tells enough story that it's no big problem, and it even advances one of the series mains' character, so this is definitely not wasteful.
This is a highly entertaining superhero series, and has exactly the type of tone and maturity level that the comic industry sorely lacks. It's got entertaining characters, an interesting and fun world for them to inhabit, and things progress nicely, rather than staying static...Although if this series chose to stay static, it's so good that it'd probably pull that off without a hitch.
Some may find it annoying that six issues in and we still don't know why Captain Ultimate vanished for so many years, but I don't mind. That mystery, along with the characters and their development, really make this an interesting world to read.
The artwork for this series is great, and the covers are all good too. The only one I don't take to is Issue #4's, because it doesn't scream superhero comic in the slightest. At least it is showing elements from inside the story though, so that's good.
At the end of each issue, you'll be greeted by the letter columns, which are great to read! I miss them in comics! One letter in particular nails part of what's so wrong with the comics industry nowadays...
As this is an independent comic, the release dates can be sporadic, but I don't mind in this case. When a big company like, say, Dynamite takes two months to release their damn comics, I get pissed off, but when an independent series like Captain Ultimate has such a gap in-between issues, I think 'Phew, this issue came out in only two months instead of eight!'.
Captain Ultimate is a highly entertaining superhero romp for all ages (that funnily enough, manages to be more adult than the supposed 'mature' mainstream comics that flood the market), and very cheap too, at only a dollar per issue, so it's too good to pass up!...
Wednesday, August 20, 2014
It's been a while since I discussed Dark Horse's failed Gold Key remake line, with Turok, Son of Stone. I meant to get to the others sooner, but haven't gotten around to it until now.
All four of these remakes were written by Jim Shooter, former editor-in-chief of Marvel Comics, and co-founder of Valiant comics, for which he remade the 1960's Gold Key comic characters Solar, Man of the Atom, Magnus, Robot Fighter, and Turok, Dinosaur Hunter. He was booted from Valiant, and in 2010, he tried his hand at remaking the three properties (and one other random Gold Key one) for Dark Horse comics.
By the way, I've since found out the reason for the Dark Key line's failure-The release dates! Turok, Son of Stone Issue #1 was released on October 13th 2010. #2 was released on April the 1st of the next year! Fucking hilarious April Fools joke, guys! We never saw it coming! Issue #3 came out in September of 2011, and the fourth and final issue surprisingly only came out the very next month. Wow, the Dark Key line really did deserve every bit of crushing failure it got! This wasn't isolated to Turok either. All four DK lines suffered from these baffling setbacks. But you wanna know what the real kicker is? The Dynamite remakes are making the SAME DAMN MISTAKE! Wow, it takes a special kind of dumb to fail so badly! And what kind of damn schmuck can't draw a 20 page comic in two months?! The schedule ten-year-old me had when making amateur comics in school makes these industry guys seem lazy! George Beard and Harold Hutchins produce comic books faster than the comics industry does!
Before I get into detail with Dark Key's Magnus, let's talk about the Valiant incarnation. All I've learnt is that it really, really loved killing off every single character, main or supporting, it could, frequently in the most horrific ways possible. Has anyone reading ever read Archer and Armstrong #11, with Ivar the Timewalker and that comic-relief robot who apparently got sent to Ancient Egypt at the end of the issue? Yeah, he was actually sent to the third-times apocalyptic future of 4002, where he's instantly taken over by the planetary invasion of genocidal alien robots, tries to murder all humans, and is unceremoniously killed by Magnus a few panels later. As you can imagine, I 'don't exactly gel' to the series all that much. In fact, I actually respect the new Magnus series a lot for how far it's going in keeping the character of H8R (L33t for Hater) alive, despite the fact that he's just some unimportant jive-talkin' comic-relief.
In the future of 4000 (where things are so 'amazingly futuristic', humanity feels the need to say 'lev' instead of 'level', because THE FUTURE!), the 'continent-spanning' city of North Am has employed robots for various jobs for centuries, and most are simple machines. Unfortunately, others have more advance A.I. and while most of them were destroyed in a rebellion against humanity, the ones that live on want humanity dead, and the only one that can stop them (except, y'know, literally everyone else on the planet who has a gun) is Magnus, a man who has been trained from birth by his robot 'father' 1-A to fight evil robots...
#1-Metal Mob Part 1: Taken
This is a pretty horrible first issue! The story isn't bad, but this series basically starts in media res, with both the situation, and character relationships already established, as if there have been ten previous issues that you haven't read. It also does a very poor job at establishing anything about the city of North Am.
The writing is generic, and there's extremely forced exposition that 1-A gives about himself and Magnus...And he's giving this to Magnus, who already knows it! As for why Magnus can punch robots to pieces with his bare hands when he's a normal human, it's because look at the adorable kitty over there!
The title character has very little to him here, despite the exposition dump's efforts. And the only explanation we ever get for why he's so strong is some BS mind over matter crap.
Supporting main character Leeja Clane here starts off as basically a plank of wood designed specifically to wear skimpy clothing, be kidnapped, and swoon "Oh, Magnus!", however, this iteration of Leeja does show some proactive behaviour in the latter half of the issue, so things aren't all bad.
#2-Metal Mob Part 2: Deliverance
Despite being Part 2 in a four-parter, this issue concludes the story started in issue one, which is good, as it really didn't have enought material to be dragged out for that long.
So far, this series has had very little in the way of robot fighting, as the main villains are evil humans, who deal with evil aliens! The robots are only brainwashed servants and henchmen.
Remember when I said that the writing for Leeja in this series wasn't too bad? Well forget what I said there, because in this issue she's stripped naked by her captors for interrogation, which is a tad uncomfortable enough to look at on its own, but not only is the artwork very sexualized here, but the comic even makes jokes made at her expense! *sigh* 'Thanks' for that, Shooter! What the hell?!
There's one really stupid scene at the end, where an evil alien is about to eat Leeja and her friend Cinette, when Magnus pops up and brutally breaks all four of the alien's limbs...then lets it live, because killing is wrong! That's dumb enough, but what's really stupid is that he wants to let it live for the aforementioned reason, yet as the trio are walking away and haven't even walked four footsteps, an angry mob is already about to violently execute the alien! You're an idiot, Magnus!
#3-Metal Mob Part 3: Prizefighter
This feels like a separate issue moreso than a part 3 of a four-parter, which is good, as having a one-shot could help greatly in fleshing out your series' setting a lot more...Except this issue doesn't do that at all. It just shows Magnus banging Cinette despite having a thing for Leeja, and stopping a menace at a robot fight club.
The 'robot vs enhanced humans fight club' idea is an interesting one, but severely underutilized, unfortunately.
#4-Metal Mob Part 4: Most Dangerous Game
Again, this issue is still part of the same big story, but feels separate, which is good, although as this was the final issue of this series, it really is too little too late.
The story here is an ok 'finale'. Nothing special, but mildly entertaining.
This is a very problematic series! Let's start with the robots...
Like I said above, the robots feature very little in the first two issues, and when they do, they're just window-dressing. One weird aspect to the robots is that they say 'squee' when they die, just as they did in the Gold Key/Valiant Magnus comics. Now I can let that slide for comics made in the '60's and '90's, but when a comic from 2010 does it, there's no leeway for mercy! The writer is being an idiot or a child!
This series does a crappy job at at establishing North Am, and showing it off. The only thing it amounts to is looking stylish and cool in a few shots here and there.
Onto the concept: Unlike other incarnations of this series, Magnus isn't fighting robots because humanity is growing too reliant on them and evil ones are taking advantage, but is instead simply hitting evil robots because they're evil. Society and their connection to robots seems to have gone pretty swimmingly without Magnus.
The writing in this series is pretty dull, but it'll kill an afternoon. What's pretty annoying about the writing is that it has repeated mentions of the Q-Bot uprising, a huge rebellion that Magnus single-handedly stopped...And we don't see any of it! 'Maybe' that would have been a good opening story arc, Shooter, ya think?!
The series tries to build a connection between this and other Dark Key series Doctor Solar, Man of the Atom by having a big corporation in North Am that's frequently brought up be called Lovejoy, which is the company run by a villain in Solar. This never comes into play or anything, it's just there for the sake of a cheap continuity tie-in.
Magnus is a pretty dull character, and while the comic thinks he's a good guy, his moral code is pretty screwed-up. His attitude is basically 'I never kill robots with AI, even if they're evil brutally sociopathic murderers, but I'm totally willing to murder innocent police robots who get in my way, because they don't have AI, and are therefore appliances'.
1-A, Magnus' trainer and mentor is basically a commentator on the events most of the time, given his constant comm-link with Magnus. He's pretty dull too, and his motivations are very cliched at this point.
The villains of this story are pathetically one-note. They have no character to them, are evil just because, and the main one Timur leaves zero impression in the first three and a half issues! He only becomes interesting at the end of Issue #4, when its revealed he's a Q-robot...which is a pretty moot point, as he's literally defeated by Magnus in one panel!
Now onto the female characters! This comic does not like women! They're all always dressed in extremely skimpy clothing, and are either damsels, prostitutes, victims, or villains! And the only conversations that Cinette and Leeja have when not kidnapped break the Bechdel test constantly!
You have to wonder if Jim Shooter has said the most about the horribly sexist travesty that was Avengers #200 out of guilt, but then again, if that was true, that'd mean he cared, and if he did care, why would this be so misogynistic. Either way, Shooter, you may not have been responsible for the 'My woman!' moment in Secret Weapons #1, and you may have even had no part in Avengers #200, but still, I got my eye on you, boy!
The artwork overall is passable. It's a bit sketchy, but decent. Now with Turok, Son of Stone, the schedule delay necessitated the need for a new artist for the third and fourth issues, and said art change was horrible. Here, the series artist stuck with the comic until Issue #4, when a new one took over, and thankfully they could actually draw. In many ways, the replacement's art is superior to that of the first three issues, but in others, it's worse. One hilarious error in Issue #1 is this...
...Oh my God, she's been idnapped?! There's nothing worse than that!
The covers are pretty mediocre. Magnus' facial expressions are awkward, and the action on the covers themselves are lacking, either showing too little, or being too cluttered.
By the way, on another note with the artwork, should I be concerned that 1-A, Magnus' surrogate/adopted father, felt it necessary to dress him in a mini miniskirt which would undoubtedly show off his balls, or at the very least, his packaged package?! Thank God the new Dynamite Magnus actually wears pants!
There are a couple other layout tidbits that are annoying, such as the lying 'Previously on' recap page in Issue #4, and the comic's use of the C.E. form of dating. I don't care what some historians/archeologists/etc. class it as nowadays-It's been A.D. for the last 2000 years, so in my eye, it's staying as A.D.! Couldn't they have just made a backronym, like they did when swapping out B.C. with B.C.E.?! Clearly they went to the effort then! *grumbles*
To finish, in my opinion, Magnus is just a boring character, and the series' whole conceit is terribly, irrevocably cliched, and when you've read four completely different versions from completely different decades and still feel that way about these things, there's something wrong! But opinions are always different...
Tuesday, August 19, 2014
Like I've said before (I think), Valiant Comics' Archer and Armstrong seems to have been hugely popular back in the day, but for the life of me, I can't figure out why. Every issue I've read is so horribly mediocre! I've not encountered any that are outright bad yet, but this still isn't a series I'd sing high praises for...Except two particular issues. The first one, Issue #0, and today's #12. Neither are perfect, and both have problems, but they encapsulate what this series should have been.
Young Buddhist Archer and drunkard immortal Armstrong are transported to Los Angeles bar The End of the World by superhero Solar, where the psychotic Mahmud is waiting, with Armstrong's magical trinket-filled satchel. Mahmud (a former member of The Sect, a millennia-old order dedicated to killing Armstrong, who they believe to be the devil) seeks to gain his revenge against his enemy and rid the world of him once and for all...
The structure of this story is actually pretty bad. It's just an issue-long fight scene, which can't be set over more than ten minutes, and the ending is a complete deus ex machina (Mahmud accidentally recites a spell wrong, which is the only thing that saves the heroes) but the writing is what saves this from being meh. The banter between Armstrong and Mahmud as they fight is fun, there's comedy that's actually funny, a cool-looking villain, and Archer's scenes (where he confronts his murderous parents in a vision caused by Mahmud) are fantastic! They characterize him really well, and add a dark tone that fits well with the more comedic nature of the series. This is what the series should have had more of-Great, complex, dark storytelling mixed in with comedy. It could work, and such a combination gave us the only two issues of A&A that I think are worth a damn.
Armstrong gets no characterization here, but he is fun. Mahmud is a fun villain-Much more entertaining than in Issues #3 and #4, and his new look is a lot more eye-catching and interesting!
Solar is useless here, no surprise there, but what's really baffling is that Armstrong calls him Magnus! As in Magnus Robot Fighter, another Valiant hero. This would make sense if it was clear that he's just confused about who Solar is, but Solar's dialogue does not help! He asks Archer if he knows who he is, and Archer responds with the proper answer, that he's Doctor Solar, and Solar's reaction is a befuddled 'Doctor Solar is a comic book character' and and 'Um, uh, good, glad we got that cleared out of the way'. And when he leaves, he calls himself a robot fighter! Wha?!...
In Mahmud's scenes last issue, which lead into this, he tells Solar that he'll be waiting for Armstrong at the end of the world, and the issue ends on a cliffhanger about what that could mean. What it turns out to be is the name of the bar from Issue #0, but since the issue never points that out or acknowledges what 'the end of the world' is (!) you wouldn't notice unless you're keen enough to notice the bar's name, which is backwards and partially obscured in whatever shots it's in!
The dialogue here is all good to great, minus the confusing Solar-Magnus deal, and this one line when Armstrong is on fire in one of Mahmud's visions, where the latter says "Why do you not writhe in pain? Call to your hellions for succour as I called to my God?" What? What the hell is that supposed to mean? The grammar and sentence structure there is terrible!
All Valiant issues had names, but every blue moon, you'd come across one that didn't, such as this, which is really lazy, especially since this was Barry Windsor-Smith's swansong as the series head honcho. They could have just called it End of the World, or End of the Line. I thought of those in seconds! But no, this issue is forever going to be the footnote known as [Untitled Issue]...Yes, those rectangle brackets are meant to be there, not a late night editing screw-up...
The artwork here is the best the series has ever had since Issue #0 (although the lack of backgrounds for many panels is a bit detracting), and the cover is pretty good. What I mean is that it looks great, but what it's showing is 1, from the ending, and 2, pretty non-indicative of the rest of the issue's action. The only real art screwup is the bar's name, which is spelt as End o' Th' World, but in one shot, you can clearly see an 'E' at the end of 'the'!
This was the first issue of Archer and Armstrong I ever read (I found this random physical copy at a local cafe), and I highly recommend it, along with #0! You'll probably be a bit confused reading this, given the sudden change of Mahmud, and in wondering who the hell is Solar, but that's little matter.
Unfortunately, as for the rest of Archer and Armstrong, the remaining issues are the bad period. Yeah, the period I've been discussing all this time was the good one! Barry Windsor-Smith may not have been the best writer, but at least he can draw!...
Young Buddhist Archer and his drunkard immortal friend Armstrong have arrived in London to visit the latter's brother, Ivar, a time-traveler. The three go out to dinner and are drugged by a group of time-displaced people, who think Ivar is deliberately responsible for their troubles. They put him on trial at Stonehenge, and Ivar's only hope may be superhero Solar, Man of the Atom...
The plot to these issues of Valiant series Archer and Armstrong is boring, drawn out, and doesn't lead to anything at all! It just stops! Archer's narration can get humorous at times, but aside from that, there's little to enjoy about this two-parter.
The reason all these people were displaced in time is really half-assed, comes out of nowhere, and it's such a confusing explanation that trying to work everything out will make your head hurt!
Another problem with the plot is that there's no reason why the main characters don't just fight their way out of their sticky situation. "You can't fight all of them. There's just too many." Ivar tells Armstrong. He's immortal! He can punch through metal, and take numerous gunshots, stab wounds, and explosions as if they were merely pillory fruit! So can you, Ivar! I'm sure you can take a small crowd of random people!
And finally, the way the story is resolved is a complete deus ex machina. Other Valiant character Solar comes out of nowhere and immediately solves the problem.-The End. This is exactly what happened with Secret Weapons Issue #4! Was Solar only good for resolving problems in other Valiant series'?!
The characters are meh. Archer and Armstrong feel like minor characters in their own comic (By the way, I've no idea why Archer has doubted Armstrong's immortality and the stories of his exploits until now, as he's personally accompanied the man in an interdimensional war to save all of reality! Immortality really isn't particularly unbelievable at that point!), while Ivar has very little character to him besides his love for Egyptian queen Nefretete (although he at least has more identity here than he did in A&A Issue #8).
Ivar's whole conceit is just confusing. He's always catching 'time-arcs', which take him to somewhere where he's gotta rush to find the next time-arc. It's not explained why he does this. It'd make sense if it was to get back to his love in ancient Egypt, but he clearly already has, so why didn't he stay? Ivar always seems to hunt down the time arcs as if he has to go through them, which makes him seem like Phileas Fogg from Around the World in 80 Days-Rushing through Europe without admiring anything just to get to his race's finish line. Although Fogg at least has a reason-If there's a reason for Ivar, like say, he disintegrates into acidic goo if he doesn't always hop through time, it's never brought up in his various appearances in various Valiant comics, nor do I suspect it is in his own series Timewalker.
One last thing to mention with Ivar is the incredibly dumb line he gets with his brother, who he's lamenting with that he never gets to see very often, because "It's so rare that we're in the same timestream, y'know" WHAT?! YOU'RE A TIME TRAVELER AND HE'S IMMORTAL! YOU'RE ALWAYS IN THE SAME TIMESTREAM!
Solar is nothing this story besides an easy fix to the problem. This certainly doesn't make me want to read his series!...Granted, I already have read his series, and it's terrible! Solar is the most unlikeable damn hero in comics I've ever come across!
The story's 'villains' are pretty dull, and a lot of their dialogue is hard to understand due to their phonetically written British accents. One illogical thing is their means of capturing The main characters. They must have access to the strongest damn knockout drugs in the universe, as all it takes is a single chip for Archer to knock him out, and one bite before the super resilient immortal brothers immediately fall asleep. READ A BOOK, AUTHOR!
Mahmud is back in this story from the nasty situation Armstrong left him in (seriously, how could we root for a hero who just abandons the villain to a horrific fate like that?), now covered in bandages from his injuries, and yelling for vengeance. I like the scene in Issue #11 where he's rampaging in the city, because of how over-the-top it is that he's just screaming at the top of his lungs that he's going to 'TEAR ARMSTRONG'S BLACK HEART OUT!' in the middle of the street as he's blasting away at everything, but I don't really take much at all to his scene in #10, where he's rehearsing said lines, because that diminishes what it is I like about that scene in #11.
Say, remember how Armstrong's super magical satchel was stolen by that bratty little kid? Yeah, neither do I. Well that story arc has pointlessly meandered across damn near ten issues, with no point to it until now, where Mahmud steals Armstrong's satchel...making any prior scene with this kid's fooling around entirely pointless! They could have used that space to show how Mahmud ended up as a half-crazy mummy, rather than have him abruptly appear again out of nowhere ten issues later.
The art here is decent. The cover to #10 is ok. The background is beautifully drawn, while the action in the foreground makes for a good cover to pull you in. #11's cover, however, is BLINDING if you look at it for more than one second! Aside from that aspect, it's bland.
This is yet another Archer and Armstrong story that accomplishes absolutely nothing, but coming next is Issue #12, the next and last remaining great issue of this series!...
Monday, August 18, 2014
Acclaim Comics' Trinity Angels is my new favourite series! It's not my absolute favourite, but it's been great reading for the last couple of days!
Maria, Teresa, and Gianni Barbella are three sisters who recently woke up in the middle of the woods, in strange costumes, supernatural powers, and no memory of how they came to be in this situation. They managed to fend off an attack by the demonic clan The 99 (now pared down to 97 thanks to their efforts), and now that they've tested out their new powers, the sisters have to hurry to the chapel where Teresa's wedding is being held. While a little late, the Barbella sisters arrive soon enough, but unfortunately so have the 99, who are intent on resurrecting their malevolent queen...
This series seems to have completely forgotten that it was partially a raunchy parody of comic cheesecake and the like, and is primarily focused on telling an interesting fantasy story. The writing here is very good, and the ending to Issue #4 is when shit really hits the fan! Things are tense, dramatic, the stakes are high, and the final shot looks great!
Issue #3 has the characters still in the forest from the last two issues, but this is hardly a wasteful storyline the series has going on. Here, we see the three sisters learning their powers, and the loose end of the 'decapitated body' is cleared up, all the while good humour abounds. I'd take more issue with it if this wasn't a miniseries, but that's basically what Trinity Angels is.
The Barbella sisters are a likeable trio with distinct personalities. Their powers are pretty cliched, being your average element-base ones, but that's not a problem as long as the writing is good, which it is. As for Mokey, the guy who stumbled into everything last issue, he's simply a likeable guy with a crush on Teresa at first, but the end of Issue #4 really cements him as a genuine player in this story.
The 99 are a fun bunch, while their Queen is a threatening and cool villain!
These two issues aren't without some problems, unfortunately. When the 99 attack the wedding, there's no transition when the sisters transform, and neither is there any lead-in for how the sisters suddenly know what to call the 99. I guess that much more of their memory came back, but it's never explained.
The art is mostly good, but there are a few low points. As for the covers, they're decent, save for the barcodes, and the action obstructing the title!
Trinity Angels is a series that just gets better and better, and these two issues do a great job at expanding its world!...
Sunday, August 17, 2014
Third time's the charm, I guess!
The concept that Acclaim Comics series Trinity Angels has is pretty similar to awful independent comic series Sultry Teenage Super Foxes (greatly reviewed by comic reviewed Linkara of Atop the Fourth Wall here and here) in that this is a somewhat sex comedy about a group of women getting superpowers. The idea also brings to mind Bimbos in Time, although that is pretty different. Either way, this is a concept that seems to be absolute poison, but Acclaim tried it, and succeeded!
Acclaim Comics deserve a lot of credit for not only resurrecting the Valiant characters which would otherwise fade away thanks to the Great Comic Industry Crash of 1996, but also for creating several original characters to inhabit the shared universe. This is what Valiant did when it remade the three Gold Key characters, and it's what some fans nowadays would like New Valiant to do.
Three seemingly random women wake up in the middle of a forest, dressed in strange, revealing costumes, and wielding weapons. At each-other's throats at first, the women soon realize they're all in the same boat. However, they have very little time to wonder what's happened to them, as a large group of bizarre monsters attack them. As the women fend the creatures off, they slowly start to remember what happened to them...
Trinity Angels is a fantasy-adventure and is also a comedy, with semi-plentiful sexual innuendos. Although reading ahead, that's not the series' main focus-Telling a highly entertaining fantasy story is. This is very well-written so far, while the comedy is very funny. There are a couple of jokes that I felt didn't hit the mark, but for the most part, Trinity Angels is highly amusing. The ending to Issue #1 is funny as hell, while #2's is a neat note to end on.
When it comes to how much story these issues tell, it's not a whole lot, but I'm fine with it here, because this two-parter tells a very entertaining story, and that's what matters most. Also, it could be a lot worse. Given the shit the comic industry tends to pull, like issues that accomplish nothing, or stories that take four to six months to tell, it really could be a lot worse!
Despite the compressed storyline, we do get a feel for the characters. While there's plenty we don't know about them, there's enough in the dialogue that this doesn't come across as empty.
The villains are nicely varied, and while we don't know their motivations yet, there's enough for the immediacy of this story.
Now, these two issues don't make up the entirety of this storyline, but that's because said storyline is the entirety of the series, so I can pretty confidently review these first two issues on their own.
The artwork is very good, despite a couple of minor hiccups (awkward looking faces a couple of times), and a fight scene at the start of #2 which is structured confusingly in one part. The covers are decent, but nothing special.
For a semi-send up of superhero comics filled with constant gratuitous T&A, this does have some sexy posing with its characters, and their costumes (which look decent) are barely there, but the really embarrassing thing is that plenty of serious modern comics have such over-the-top horribly sexist cheesecake that they easily surpass what this parody of that sort of attitude has!
So, to finish, with its interesting story and funny humour, Trinity Angels is yet another hit for Acclaim Comics!...