Saturday, August 2, 2014

Secret Weapons #6 and #7 (Classic Valiant)

Issues #6 and #7 of mediocre Valiant Comics title Secret Weapons focuses on 'The Horror Below', and had quite a bit of advertising to build up the mystery. What could the horror below be?! What could this intriguing plot be about? What horrid nightmare beasts could be lurking below????...It's just Valiant stalwart spider aliens. Again. 'Yippee'.

Superpowered 'Harbingers' Eddie 'Stronghold' Sedgewick and Amanda 'Livewire' McKee team up with Geomancer (earth speaker) Geoff McHenry and policeman Thomas Morgan to investigate the source of a mysterious spate of apparent vampire murders. Down in an abandoned subway system, they find a large colony of spider aliens, performing an execution (with the executioner clad in the intricate armour of a so-called vampire Gilad, the Eternal Warrior, once fought named Baron Darkuul). The aliens are alerted to the heroes' presence, and heavily outnumber them. Now captives of the carniverous alien predators, the team's only hope is in the hands of Gilad...

The plot to this story is completely empty. It's 42 pages made up entirely of a prolonged fight scene. There's very little story, and definitely no stakes!

This two-parter is incredibly wasteful too. That whole Baron Darkuul prologue in 1320? Pointless. The abduction of the Salem preacher from 1692 and his transformation into a cyborg? Pointless and nonsensical. Add all that to the fact that this series is a failed attempt to be like Batman: Brave and the Bold (i.e. constantly having guest stars from other series'), the main characters are upstaged in their own series to the point where they're damn near superfluous!

To elaborate more on the Baron Darkuul part of of the story...there's nothing. One of the aliens is wearing the armour of this Transylvanian 'vampire' for no explained reason, that alien is quickly killed, and the armour is never seen again. It could make sense if the presence of the spider aliens was meant to be a mystery, but it's not. They're exposed fully early on. Hence, about five pages are wasted on a superfluous prologue.

Like I said above, the spider aliens' presence here is an annoyance. They were massively overused in Valiant comics, and they're always so easily killable that their threat never holds any kind of weight (especially since the Valiant heroes they've made enemies of are basically gods who've sworn to kill them all, and are always unstoppable). What makes their inclusion even more pointless is that at the same time as these issues were published, they were already the main foes in a big storyline in XO Man-O-War, and I think Solar too. Spider alien overload!

Stronghold and Livewire are once again shafted. They get no character to them, and have no character development. As for guest stars Gilad (Eternal Warrior), Turok (Dinosaur Hunter), and Aric Dacia (XO Man-O-War), they're totally one-note. They don't even have all that much dialogue! Geoff is also one-note, as is Lt. Thomas Morgan, who I like to call the Youngblood equivalent for the Valiant universe. What does that mean? Well in the various Image Comics series', super'hero' group Youngblood is repeatedly name-dropped to try and force the connection that these comics are in a shared universe. The same is true in a way with Morgan, as this one random guy repeatedly appears in various Valiant titles solely to force said connection.

This story is also hampered by pointless narration  It's also repetitive, too. In #6, Morgan narrates about Eddie and Amanda's powers, and he does so again in #7, with very similar wording. This'd be ok if this was just plain narration, but it's in the form of a police report, so anyone reading will think Lt. Thomas Morgan is having early onset dementia! As for why its pointless, that's because-Why the hell is Morgan writing a police report about his battle alongside time-travelers and superheroes against spider aliens?! At the end, he says that  he 'doesn't know why I wrote this report. I have to destroy it, or risk losing my badge', and that's it. No explanation that he wrote it for catharsis or something (which still wouldn't be a very good excuse), or anything.

The artwork here is ok, but not so good in places, and confusing in others. Then there are other problems, such as the silly Baron Darkuul mask doesn't look nearly as intimidating as I'm sure it was meant to, and Lt. Morgan's hair length keeps fluctuating. There's a couple of pointless splash pages, and a confusing two-page spread (think Battlefeld Earth angles mixed with mediocre artwork). Issue #6's cover is very good, but a total non-sequitur (a non-sequitur that looks a hell of a lot more entertaining than what we got...literally, judging by those Pilgrim's Progress: The Animated Movie demons). #7's cover, on the other hand, is crap. The artwork for it is just crummy, and it's just a lazy group shot.

Of course there's an Elvis pin down there in the subterranean lair. You know why? Because Elvis never really died, but was instead kidnapped and help captive by the spider aliens! But don't you worry, he got his revenge on them when he told Aric Dacia how to find the XO Man-O-War armour!...As much as it pains me to say it, that wasn't a joke! That actually happens in Valiant! And from a company that prided itself on 'ultra-realism' (which is a bullshit concept with comics anyway)!

Secret Weapons is consistently both mediocre, and a missed opportunity. Good things could have been done with this series in the right hands, but that was never to be...

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