Friday, August 8, 2014

The H.A.R.D. Corps #5 (Classic Valiant)

I was originally going to review Issue #5 of The H.A.R.D. Corps last month, but at that stage, I'd just reviewed four issues of other Valiant series Bloodshot one after the other, and as said character appears in this issue, I figured I'd wait a little while before getting to it.

This, along with #6 and #10, was the first issue of HARD Corps I ever read, so I have it to thank for really getting me fully into comics! Now this was before I discovered the simple ease of digital comics site Comixology, hence these three issues of HARD Corps are physical, so no images this time round, as I'm paranoid that scanning them might have ill effects (like being badly creased by the machine, or something). I also had to crack open my box of rubber gloves, because there is no way I'm letting my filthy human hands touch a treasured comic book of mine...Man I wish I saved the polybag for this...

Gunslinger, Hammerhead, Superstar, and Flatline are members of the HARD Corps, a strike team working for shady company Omen Enterprises. Their job is to take in Harbingers, superpowered individuals, and copy their powers before letting them loose, in order to aid them in their ultimate goal of stopping Toyo Harada, an evil Harbinger of incalculable power, who is slowly planing on taking over the world. This mission, the team are informed of a possible Harbinger subject-A superpowered man named Bloodshot, who clearly has a violent score to settle with the New York mafia...

This comic is at its core just one big action scene mostly, but other scenes, as well as the characters are what sell it beyond a bad idea like that.

The HARD Corps members which appear this issue (Shakespeare's on holiday in Oregon, which will soon be very relevant) are mostly all well defined as characters, Superstar's character arc is moving forward, and its eventual payoff over the course of the series is fantastic. As for Flatline, not only do we the reader feel for him due to his wife still thinking he's dead (and his not being allowed to leave Omen grounds unsupervised for the foreseeable future), but what he does at the end is also a good character moment. One aspect I especially like is how much the squad is actually written working as a team, which makes sense, given they're mostly military. Hammerhead and Gunslinger are less characterized here, but that's ok, as they're still likeable characters (and Gunslinger was the main recipient of character development last issue, anyway). Long story short, like all issues of HARD Corps, this is very accommodating to new readers.

This issue is very good at introducing Bloodshot for new readers, although if you read this blog, you know how I feel his regular series stacks up. Now there are some continuity errors here in regards to him-Here he gets the info on where a particular mob meeting is in a totally different way than in his own series, and he says here that he's going after the mafia to get info on Project Rising Spirit, the experiment that made him what he is. This is of course bullshit! He was going after the mob for revenge, and due to bad writing, he never went after Rising Spirit ever, despite having every reason to! It's not like he didn't know about them-He did! Now, while these flubs are annoying, I level no complaints towards HARD Corps, as these are making me pissed moreso at Bloodshot and its many problems and plot holes.

The action here is a load of fun, with plenty of violence and badass moments as the HARD Corps help Bloodshot take the mafia down. Yeah, it is a bit silly that the mafia has a small private army of suits for this one mission, and the fact that they all die must mean that New York's mafia problem is solved pretty damn efficiently, but it's entertaining nonetheless.

This is a very well-written issue...but it has some clunky dialogue here and there, all 'as you know' exposition dumps which could have easily been kept in for the sake of new readers and not felt clunky if they were only pared down a bit. There's one particular line which really is just terrible! When Bloodshot goes into the chop-shop where the action of the issue all goes down, he's confronted by the army of mobsters, one of whom says "Evenin' fish. I call ya that 'cause ya took the bait.". Ugh, that just hurts to read, doesn't it!

The artwork is great, although there are a couple of instances of characters with rectangle shaped heads (way too tall, and way too thin, that is), and some angles in conversations are a bit odd, but otherwise it's good. The cover is good, with a nicely drawn team shot.

The two page spread is definitely the highlight of this comic! It's not wasteful, what it shows is awesome, and it has both the best (and worst) aspect of awesome two-page spreads-There's so much to look at. Seriously, you likely won't catch everything on your first read. I've read this comic probably four/five times, and there's one part that I only ever noticed last night!

Now, as I own the physical copy to this comic, there are some things I'd like to bring up. For one, there's an ad for notoriously crappy Sega CD game Sewer Shark! Really! Other physical Valiant comics I have advertise the original Mortal Kombat, back when it was an upcoming new game! Whoah!

Also, the solicitation in the back gets the plot to this issue all wrong! It claims that the team are sent in to stop Bloodshot as he's attacking a cartel owned by Omen! WRONG! And there's also an 'editor's'* pick column which gushes about how awesome this issue featuring Bloodshot vs. the HARD Corps was. WRONG! It's one thing to have a reader's pick column in a different book getting the plot wrong, but in the very book itself?!

*It says 'Evil Jon's Pick Hit of the Month'. I've no idea who Evil Jon is, or whether or not he's an editor, but the gist is the same.

TO finish, The H.A.R.D. Corps continues to prove itself as an extremely entertaining series with this issue!...

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