This is a good damn issue, but for reason completely different from the previous two issues. In this issue we see Aric crushed. He’s a man that’s given up hope and his once proud warrior spirit is no more. I mean this is Aric, the dude that’s strong enough to wield the X-O suit and ballsy enough to land his spaceship in the middle of Romania and proclaim it his once more. The man who picked a fight with the world rather than listen… and his spirit is crushed. But the story doesn’t start there. Instead we begin in Utah where the hounds and Lilt are wiping out everything that’s come in contact with Malgam. Oh Malgam, that beautiful bastard is beginning to play a larger role in the story than I ever thought possible. The Colonel and Bloodshot are the few left standing to face Lilt; Bloodshot tells the Colonel to leave because he doesn’t want to and lunges at Lilt. That’s the end of their battle here, but I imagine we’ll be seeing more of it in Armor Hunters: Bloodshot.
The Colonel gets on the horn with Livewire and gets “the Loveboat” up and running. The Loveboat is the codename for an alien ship that the U.S. has modified for the military. They head to Aric and gather what’s left of his people. Seeing how few there are is the final straw for Aric and he says he’s ready to hand himself over to the Hunters. The Colonel tells him fine, but they do it her way.
Robert Venditti is firing on all cylinders with this event. Maybe it’s because this universe is fresh and we haven’t seen them destroy every major city a hundred times only to be rebuilt overnight, but the damage and consequences feel real. People are leaving Mexico and flooding the U.S. and that’s a real consequence to the attack that happened in the first issue. Venditti’s dialogue continues to bounce between humor, heart and the dramatic, but it helps make the characters three-dimensional.
I had never heard of Doug Braithwaite until his work at Valiant. In fact I doubt I ever would have heard of him if he hadn’t worked at Valiant. His style feels at home on this universe. His action is dynamic and easy to follow and his destruction is believable. When he destroys a city you don’t think, “Ah that’ll be rebuilt next issue.” Instead you think it’s going to have a lasting effect on the Valiant Universe. His artwork drives the story as much as Venditti’s narrative and it brings this world to life.
There seems like a lot of ground left to cover for this series, but I have no doubt that the creative team will pull off the big finish. The thing is you shouldn’t expect a finish that ties everything in a bow. That’s why I keep mentioning that there will be lasting effects from Armor Hunters on the Valiant U. We’re going to deal with this fallout for a while I’d imagine.
Writer: Robert Venditti Artist: Doug Braithwaite Publisher: Valiant Comics Price: $3.99 Release Date: 8/13/14 Format: Mini-Series; Print/Digital