Monday, August 4, 2014

Secret Weapons #8 (Classic Valiant)

Here we are. Finally at the last issue of mediocre Valiant series Secret Weapons' Stronghold and Livewire run. It's been a crummy and wasted journey, and its ending is the worst thing to have come so far! It's technically not the worst issue of Secret Weapons (that's Issue #3) but what it does to these characters pissed me off so much that this is my least favourite entry in the series...

Exhausted after their battle against the subterranean spider aliens in the last two issues, superpowered Harbingers (think mutants from X-Men) Eddie 'Stronghold' Sedgewick and Amanda 'Livewire' McKee go home, only for Amanda to be handed a lawsuit by an angry landlady. Meanwhile, Eddie's loan from his father's bank is denied, shocking him, as he desperately need the money to help Amanda. Amanda is soon dumped by her boyfriend, and she and Eddie are then approached by agents from the Harbinger Foundation, despotic businessman Toyo Harada's corporation for secretly amassing and training Harbingers to eventually take over the world, 'for the betterment of mankind'. The agents have come to take Stronghold and Livewire back to the Foundation, whether they like it or not...

This issue is bad! Just rotten! With other issues of Secret Weapons, I never felt buyer's remorse, as I knew I'd get somewhat funny/entertaining reviews out of them, but with this, I don't care. I really wish I'd never gotten it. This whole issue is the depressing ruination of Eddie and Amanda's lives, as they get worser and worser off, until they're forced to go back to the Harbinger Foundation by their friend Gilad (Valiant character Eternal Warrior) against their will.

Oh, and if you think the two's lives may be good at the Foundation, it isn't. They're both dragged in like criminals and fucking lobotomized, because apparently Valiant hated its fanbase (given how many characters in Magnus, Robot Fighter it killed (nearly thirty main characters, and billions of non), it clearly hated everyone!). And after that, a now brainwashed Amanda is turned into a murderous soldier for Harada, while Eddie appears again in an issue set in the future, where he overcomes his crippling lobotomy to make a stand against Harada!...And is immediately horrifically murdered. Overall, the characters have only three more issues between them after Secret Weapons, each driving a nail in their coffin deeper and deeper, until there's no more joy to be found, because if there's one thing Valiant Comics was the master of, it was at being horribly depressing!

There are many other problems with this issue, such as how it takes three pages just for the characters to walk way from the wreckage of last issue! That leaves just seventeen pages left for story, and there's a pointless splash page, and pages with only two or three panels.

Another huge plot issue is-It's absolutely baffling that the Harbinger Foundation hasn't been demolished by feds and police! Eddie and Amanda just need to call the police and say 'Hey, we're being kidnapped by a bunch of fucking psychopaths who want to keep us locked up 24/7 and be part of a private army against our will. Help!' It's really frustrating. And it's not like the police wouldn't believe the two when 1, they're being chased by a strike team, 2, the Harbinger Foundation, seemingly only a charity organization, is being attacked by mercenary squads all the damn time, and 3, Eddie and Amanda can just show their powers to the police/feds/whoever, and prove their story (it's not like they need to stay secret). That way, the authorities can discover Harada's crimes and work on taking him down. This is a big plot hole in this issue, and all of Classic Harbinger (thankfully the current remake has actually gone that route, in a certain way).

There's a continuity screwup in that Eddie and Amanda are going to the wreckage of her previous apartment (which a drugged Stronghold accidentally leveled in #4), ruminating on the destruction as if it's just happened, even though it's been months. Worsening this impression, is when the landlady approaches them to sue for damages. Why now? The way she talks also makes it seem like this just happened two minutes ago. And speaking of, why's she suing them? How does she know that a superpower screwup caused the damage? Or is she assuming they just hired a bulldozer and deliberately did the damage?! If she did know they had superpowers, a better avenue would be to hire them for favors to pay of the damages...And I'm being a bit facetious now, so I'll stop.

As for a more minor problem, the characters cannot stop saying 'Harbinger Foundation', even after it's been established as part of the conversation! Bad writing 101!

The cover is not only lousy, but a complete lie, as it's showing Gilad shielding Eddie and Amanda from the Harbinger Foundation agents! The art for it sucks, from the nothing white background, to the Liefeldian anatomically impossible position (in Gilad's case) and musculature (in Stronghold's case). And this is as good a time as any to finally give my thoughts on the series logo-It sucks! It could look good, but it only ever looks like blinding lego! And the title itself makes no damn sense!

The artwork is mediocre, and awkward in places, such as the odd angles, the panel which makes Gilad look like The Shadow, the one panel that makes Caucasian Amanda look Asian, a stylised Gypsy landlord who looks like she's from a completely different comic, the bafflingly drawn recurring Eternal Warrior/Bloodshot character Neville Alcott, and a splash page that's not only pointless, but doesn't fit seamlessly with what's going on at all!

Another weird aspect of the art is at the end, when other Valiant character Bloodshot finds Gilad and Geoff...

...What the hell is with the look on his face?! You'd think he's either a psycho about to kidnap them, or he just really hates Gilad's guts. But that's not the case at all, as he's a friend recruiting them for a mission. And speaking of Bloodshot, there's an ID photo of him seen early on in the issue...

...'Rarr!'-I wonder what he thought when posing for that.

Secret Weapons is a series utterly dragged down by its dire issues, from its complete lack of character or development for its two leads, constantly having guest stars steal their thunder, sometimes making them completely superfluous, and worst of all, the missed opportunities! The first arc had the potential in my opinion to be a fantastic story, and could have led to so much, but the writing for this series never improved. In fact, that first arc is the best, as it's only a large missed opportunity, and doesn't quite suffer the multitude of other problems this series developed. After its miserable track run, the writers had no choice but to torch Secret Weapons and rebuild it from the ground up, leading to a by-all-accounts crappy (or at the very least, meh) clone of other Valiant titles The HARD Corps, and Armorines.

Ironically though (well, maybe. I don't actually know what irony really means-No-one does!), Issue #8 contains the only real scene of character interaction and characterisation between Eddie and Amanda in the whole series. The two are best friends, yet we've never gotten any scenes/dialogue between the two worth a damn. Here though, we get one scene which is actually pretty nicely done! I'll leave this post on that, and my advice to never read this series...

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