Armor Hunters #1 (Comics Review)

Following on the success of their team-book Unity, Valiant Comics has now launched their event crossover Armor Hunters. For the last several issues in X-O Manowar, writer Robert Venditti has been crafting a tale of how Aric, the bearer of the X-O Manowar armor suit has run into someone very much like him and yet unlike him, and how the differences have given rise to certain mysteries and even lots of tense action between the two combatants. I’ve enjoyed these issues and now Robert Venditti is leading in to his first event for Valiant, and I have to say that as a prelude his X-O Manowar work has been much better than his DC work with Green Lanterns.

Armor Hunters #1 picks up from where X-O Manowar #25 and the Armor Hunters FCBD 2014 issue left off, and it finally brings the threat of the Armor Hunters home for Earth. They are ruthless hunters who have become jaded over the long years that they’ve been hunting these sentient bio-armor suits and Aric of Dacia, a Visigoth out of time in Earth’s present, is in their sights now and it doesn’t look they are going to be backing off any time soon. Robert Venditti’s writing is pretty damn good here, and so is the art by Doug Braithwaite, who most recently did the first arc on Unity and excelled there as well.

Armor Hunters 001In the first arc of Unity, written by Matt Kindt, a telepath named Harada brought together a disparate group of heroes to combat the threat of Aric and his X-O Manowar armor suit. The world governments saw him as a big potential threat and he had to be either destroyed or brought in. Suffice to say, it was a pretty close battle in the end and Aric ended up joining the American military, of sorts. He is now an agent for them, in return for the safety and protection of his people, other time-displaced Visigoths like him who were captured by aliens hundreds of years ago and made into slaves.

Now, the galactic troubles that have plagued the bearers of the X-O Manowar armor have arrived on Earth and they are not interested in any kind of a discussion, as the cliffhanger ending makes clear, and that was a stroke of genius, I think. It highlighted the mindset of these Armor Hunters, and it made it clear for Aric that he was up against some really formidable enemies, enemies who are intimately familiar with all his capabilities and more.

Robert Venditti’s characterisation of Aric feels pretty spot-on here, just as it does on his own X-O Manowar and in Matt Kindt’s Unity. Seeing Aric take the centerstage is also gratifying in the wake of the aforementioned first arc of Unity and the situation is very much reversed in a way, so those differences also prove to be quite rewarding. Aric is a very intriguing character on his own, a man out of time as I said, and in several cases Robert Venditti uses that to his full advantage in this issue, as he has done previously in the character’s solo series.

The Armor Hunters themselves come across as a bit bland, but if you look at the story itself, it is fast-paced, action-packed and without any kind of boring elements, so that makes up for the villains not being interesting. And even in that case, I’m not sure as I would call the Armor Hunters villains per se. They seem to be good guys who’ve just seen too many horrors, too many battles, to have remained unscathed psychologically. And once again, the cliffhanger ending makes that quite clear really.

And even as Robert Venditti turns out a more-than-awesome script, Doug Braithwaite turns out a really good visual extravaganza with the help of colorist Laura Martin, letterer Dave Sharpe and cover artists Jorge Molina, Clayton Crain, Trevor Hairsine and Doug himself. I fell in love with Doug’s work on Unity and he brings a similar high level of competence to this new series. His action scenes are kinetic and his characterwork is excellent too. Laura Martin’s colors give everything a bit of a glossy sheen but that works just as well as anything else, even better in fact. It helps set this issue apart from other such superhero comics on the shelves.

All in all, I’m quite pleasantly surprised with this issue and am looking forward to the next issue!

Rating: 9.5/10

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Posted on June 12, 2014, in Comics Reviews, Review Central and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

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