Sunday, August 10, 2014

Secret Weapons #9 and #10 (Classic Valiant)

Holy shit! When did this series start getting so good?!

So, after last issue of Secret Weapons, the writers didn't fix what was actually broken and instead unwisely ditched what was only in need of maintenance. Poor Stronghold and Livewire, you got your own series, and kept getting shafted. However they did pick up the writing quality for this two part sendoff for the rest of the first Secret Weapons team. Now I'm pissed that they didn't do their jobs and actually write a good series until the point of no return!

This is really only half a good story though. I only recently got #9, but have owned #10 for a while, and that's a load of fun! But as I recently found out, the story's first half leaves much to be desired.

After the events of last issue, immortal government secret agent Gilad Abrams and 'Geomancer' (earth seer) Geoff McHenry are contacted by fellow superpowered agent Bloodshot, who needs them for a mission. Massive arms organization Weaponeer has crumbled due to attacks by terrorist organization Webnet, and the only thing remaining is a secret vault filled with dangerous experimental technology, which the U.K. government wants part of. As any electronic search to find the vault could be tracked by Webnet, Bloodshot needs Geoff's help to locate the vault and destroy it before its contents fall into the wrong hands...

This two-parter is nothing special in the slightest, but compared to what's come before, it's more than serviceable. Issue #9 is pretty dull and boring, while in #10, The 'story' picks up when everyone finds the vault. There's still no plot mind you, but the action is at least a lot more entertaining.

The whole story conceit is just broken, as Gilad and Bloodshot need Geomancer Geoff to locate the Weaponeer Vault, as doing so electronically could allow them to be followed by Webnet...Which already happens literally every step of the way!

The dialogue is meh, with particularly bad moments, such as after a Webnet attack, when Bloodshot tells his compatriots "I think it's time to stop running and take control of the situation!" and they do just the opposite, continuing to run as they search for the vault. Another problem is that #10 has some exposition dumps as a catch-up in the form of questions (such as Bloodshot asking how Geoff could tell where the super-suits they're looking for were) that characters should already know!

The action is pretty ok, even if it's only made possible by the undramatic invincibility of two of the three main players. The end to everything is dumb though, as an explosion and fire in the volcano base the vault is in makes it erupt!

...Volcanoes don't work that way!

The characters are just there. Geoff's is pretty nothing, as is 'Eternal Warrior' Gilad, and Bloodshot. Speaking of, why doesn't Bloodshot put on a helmet, so people can't just pump a magazine into his skull?! Yeah he has healing powers, but it's best not to tempt fate by running into battle when your shirt's more open than the conflict!

Other Valiant character Ninjak appears way too little to make any kind of impression on either the plot, or the reader, and it doesn't make sense why he's making Weaponeer log entries when he is the only member of the organization still alive-And he's accepted its loss too, rather than plotting to resurrect it. Also, for the leader of a highly meticulous arms organization, and scrupulous with log entries, Ninjak really can't write for shit! "Weaponeer file subject-The Vault: The Vault is no more The Philippines volcano in which my vault was located has been destroyed. Everything was demolished." Repetitive much?

The boldening of random words is a problem just about every second comic ever made has, and I'll never understand it. Translating dialogue punctuated like that into real life would result in a conversation like:
"So you took this SUIT out of its CANISTER?"-"Right. Bloodshot put it in one of the other SUITS Then I RIGGED the empty canister with EXPLOSIVES."-"CLEVER. So what's NEVILLE going to do with the SUITS, hmm?"-"THAT, my dear FELINA is a SECRET!"...."Let's talk about PLEASURE."


The artwork is largely ok, with some bits worse than others. There's a couple of weird skin colour problems. At the end, we see Colin King (Ninjak), and his skin is yellow! I'd say 'Way to be racist, artists!', but King is white, so I'll just call them dumbasses. Either that, or the yellow screen of his computer is that powerful a light that it covers his entire body! Another art issue (pictured directly below) is a panel in #9 which makes Bloodshot look black!

There's a pretty sizable visual continuity error between issues-At the end of #9, Geoff senses the suits inside an oblong silver metal crate, but in #10, there are instead several yellow and red canisters containing the suits! And it's not like these are what was inside the silver crate, as this is the exact same scene replayed, so there's no room for an offscreen removal.

Another crummy bit of art is a wasteful two-page spread with terrible foreshortening for a ninja Bloodshot is punching (especially since the way his leg match's up with BL's gun makes it look like a foot, making him seem ahead of Bloodshot, and therefore tiny!). At least the two pages match up together.

The covers to both these issues are lackluster. #9's has Liefeldian musculature and dumb action poses, while #10, showing a better cover situation, has the same near-grotesque musculature problem. Seriously, Bloodshot's thumb is as big as his forearm! By the way, look at 9's cover too long, and you;ll notice other problems, like 'who the hell is Gilad kicking towards?' or 'what the hell is happening in the background with the buildings and tree?!'. Seriously, wha?..."Space is warped and time is bendable"!

I in no way recommend these comics, but if for some reason you want to read Secret Weapons, these are readable, although one would likely get more satisfaction from them by suffering through the previous eight issues of mediocrity...

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