Publisher: Valiant Entertainment
Writer: Ales Kot
Artist: Adam Gorham
Release Date: 6th May, 2015
The descriptor ‘non-stop action’ can be a bit of a double-edged sword. In most mediums, yeah, you get your pulse-pounding action, but this is almost always at the expense of, y’know, actual storytelling. Comics? They’re in the unique position of being able to get around this problem, given their very nature. And now here’s a thing. A comic, an issue one, that not only robustly adheres to the very definition of ‘non-stop action’, but is in fact an action set-piece for its entirety, whilst at precisely the same time laying the groundwork for a fascinating global threat. Well played, Valiant, well played.
Ostensibly gathering together a veritable pantheon of Valiant heroes – although this issue does only feature X-O Manowar (or Aric of Dacia, if you want his real name) – to track down a virus that has somehow fallen into the hands of a black market hidden under the skin of New York.
And yes, yes, I can hear your usual questions: ‘but can I jump aboard here, Ross? Will I be confused, Ross? WHAT ABOUT THE CHILDREN, ROSS?’. I can’t really address that last one, but it’s yes and no for the latter two. Valiant are almost invariably aware of the fact that a lot of folk out there will not have dived in to their canon previously, and Ales Kot gives us here a masterclass in exposition through action here. Don’t know who X-O Manowar is? No both, it’s quickly apparent that he’s a human in a cool-ass suit that gives him crazy energy powers, the ability to fly and super-strength. Need more info? There’s a comic for that! And so on…
The art of this issue is good – with Gorham channelling Jock by way of Matteo Scalera for a scratchy but dynamic style that does some exceptional stuff with motion across panels. There’re a couple of hairy moments when it comes to body positioning, but overall, the linework is exceptional, and Spicers colours, particularly his shading work, give it real heft as Aric smashes through fences, doors and crowds in the pursuit.
It’s ultimately yet another ridiculously solid arc-opener from Valiant. Setting up what promises to be a fun little excursion into thriller territory, whilst at the same time maintaining the particular gritty, grounded vibe that sets Valiant’s body of work apart from your usual superhero fare. One for the watchlist.
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The Writer of this piece was: Ross Sweeney
Ross tweets from @Rostopher24