Friday, January 30, 2015

The H.A.R.D. Corps #17 and #18 (Classic Valiant)

Covert government organization the Armorines are assigned to take down the paramilitary group HARD Corps, who are mistakenly believed to be terrorists by Armorine leader General Kendall. The team suit up to eliminate the Corps with the use of their advanced armour, but the Corps are a powerful adversary to make...

The HARD Corps is a fantastic series, but it has a few missteps, specifically with its crossovers. None of this isn't the fault of the series, but rather the guest writers who mess things up with their mediocre-to-bad storytelling.

This two-parter is written by Bernard Chang and Jorge Gonzalez, and it's obvious which writers are writing which parts. You see, Bernard Chang is a good writer! He clearly gets the series, while I assume Gonzalez focused mainly on the Armorines sections, hence why he has solo writing duties for Issue #18, where they're the plot's main focus. Because of this, the story's quality nosedives from HARD Corps material to mediocre very quickly! While Bernard Chang understands the series, Gonzalez probably didn't read a single damn issue! Take for example how Gunny is so shocked to see that Charlie and Virgil, two old war comrades, are alive, which is impossible in his eyes as they all died in a plane crash in the '70's. This would indeed sound shady, if not for the fact that Charlie and Virgil's survival is open information! They were never reported as dead! They were in a prison camp for years, and in a long coma afterwards! 'Mysterious circumstances' my ass! I'll give this the benefit of the doubt though and assume Gonzalez is simply incapable of writing competent characters. An even worse error comes when Gonzalez's writing shows that he doesn't know Toyo Harada is in a coma! This is even more egregious a problem, as Chang mentioned this event at the start of Issue #17! In fact, it was a very important moment! A real game-changer!

The plot here amounts to very little, and is just a poor excuse to have the Armorines fight the HARD Corps. Come the end, nothing has been accomplished, nor has the cast been advanced or developed in any way.

The characters here are mixed. The HARD Corps personnel have their characters come across very well in the sections written by Bernard Chang, while Gonzalez  has no such talent. His Armorines are boring, and he does nothing with the story's main characters.

The other Armorines are have nothing to them, while Gunny gets the most focus. He's a dickhead, as usual. Once again, he constantly, constantly gives his Armorine compatriot Sirot crap for supposedly being rude and disrespectful, which is never seen! What's especially annoying is that this issue marks what must be the seventh time Gunny has said something along the lines of "I'm getting sick and tired of your whining and mouthing off!". This would be incredibly annoying even if Sirot did act that way.

Gunny acts like such a high and mighty 'upstanding' soldier, yet given the way he acts, he's surprised Sirot doesn't like him?! Why should he respect or trust Gunny when the man directly disobeys orders by forcing the whole team to suddenly abort the mission while they were about to take the targets into custody, and he refused to explain his actions?!

This story does have one genuinely surprising moment-Gunny actually talks civilly to Major Lane! A scene where he nearly maintains a whole conversation without insulting or ignoring her for being a woman?! Colour me surprised! But not too much, because the scene still ends with Gunny insulting the Major.

Finally, Gunny constantly whines about how old he is, and the other characters frequently mention it too, here, and in their own series. The reason this is so annoying is that Gunny is 38 years old! Old?! He's not even middle-aged!

Another annoying scene regarding the Armorines is when they're painting distinctive symbols on their armour suits. It's not that they're doing this that's the proble, but rather that this scene is in The HARD Corps rather than the Armorines own series, ensuring that your only way of telling which identical armoured protagonist is which is out the window with this required reading! However, this doesn't pose such a big problem in the long run, as you can't even see said insignias on the Armorines in most shots in their own series, so there's just plum no way of telling who's who besides coming across dialogue naming the characters.

The art here is decent, but the covers are bland, and lack backgrounds.

This two-parter is a load of mediocre crap, and you can feel free to avoid it when getting the whole series, because aside from the brief portions written by Bernard Chang in Issue #17, this isn't real HARD Corps material...

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