The first issue of Armor Hunters was heavy on the action. That’s usually the case with event books because the action draws people in. The key difference is that AH also took the time to build story and it was better for it. This second issue is heavy on the story and again, better for it. Before we begin if for some reason you’re reading this and didn’t read anything from Valiant last month then spoilers ahead, but also why would you read this then?
At any rate the story picks up quickly with the fallout in Mexico City in which the Armor Hunters destroyed the city in an instance. After that it bounces back to the Hunters’ ship so they can also bear the weight of the destruction. Of course Aric flips out because he’s all about war and this warfare is too much even for him. Colonel Capshaw cracks a little as we see her take a phone call from Washington. Finally she’s not the abrasive asshole she’s been so far in X-O. The Hunter’s hail them again and again Primary lays it out for them again, give us the armor or else. After Capshaw asks for more time the Hunters prep their next move. Primary once again wants to go in guns blazing and just finish this battle. You can tell he’s old and weary, but the other Hunters remind him of the procedure and not to rush it.
They send out “Hounds”, which are disgusting looking creatures that even attempt to eat each other, down to the earth to scrub all the locations that Aric and the armor have been. Back at the base with Aric, the scientists make a discovery with Malgam, but also with Aric that definitely changes things. It looks like Livewire might be the best thing to have happened to him, but possibly the worst thing for herself.
There’s of course some action in this issue, but I really enjoyed the story build up here. The back and forth that Robert Venditti has built is impressive because you actually care about both sides. The Hunters really aren’t bad guys, but due to Primary being so tired they might never figure things out peacefully. It’s risky toning down the action in a series like this, but Venditti makes sure that the story is there to support it and that’s so damn rare in an event book. The twist on the armor is very cool and shows promise in making Aric’s armor special which is important because this storyline has shown us that the armor is not a unique butterfly.
There was only one panel of Doug Braithwaite’s art that I didn’t like and it was a floating head and I’m not talking about the alien body that’s orbiting earth, but rather the scientist. It was super awkward and didn’t mesh with the rest of the page or issue, but other than that it’s a great looking issue. I think colorist Laura Martin is a great fit for Braithwaite’s artwork. I’m not sure if she previously colored his work on Unity, but his work here is vibrant and not draped in shadows anymore. Braithwaite does an amazing job of conveying emotion in the story as practically every character is hit hard with the destruction that the Hunters unleashed in Mexico City.
Armor Hunters is why people like event books. They’re supposed to be this entertaining, well-plotted, illustrated wonderfully and have a story that has meaning and legs to stand on after the series has concluded. Usually when you have a smaller company with a shared universe they have a harder time of making the effects of an event felt across the entire line, but Valiant makes it look easy. They put the big two to shame and I can’t wait to finish this series and see who survives this mess and where the world will go from here.
Writer: Robert Venditti Artist: Doug Braithwaite Colorist: Laura Martin Publisher: Valiant Comics Price: $3.99 Release Date: 7/9/14 Format: Mini-Series, Print/Digital