Publisher: Valiant Entertainment
Writers: JJ O’Connor & Brian Buccellato
Artwork: Manuel Garcia
Colours: Rex Lokus
Letters: Dave Sharpe
Release Date: 23rd March 2022
Strap in and take the chance to explore a new part of the Valiant Universe with a focus on armoured combat in a distant solar system. With a pitch reminiscent of things like Battletech or Starship Troopers, I was eager to get a look at this new series from a publisher I admittedly have not had much truck with.
The premise is fairly straightforward in that we have a bunch of young genetically enhanced or engineered workers who pilot mecha to mine a valuable mineral known as The Pure (an odd name to be sure and no doubt the reasons for which will become apparent in due course). These workers are treated with contempt and it’s heavily implied that by working hard they can hope to lift themselves out of their current lot in life. Throw in the fact that their supervisor is armed and pilots a combat-orientated suit and it’s difficult to ignore the strong ‘penal colony’ or ‘indentured labour’ vibes. Its not a new idea but when executed well, it’s a solid foundation for this kind of story.
Anyway, following a workplace accident with grim consequences, the presumed protagonists of the story are caught up in a hostile bug attack which leads to the loss of their supervisor and a fight for survival; something which in turn leads to an ‘out of the frying pan, and into the fire’ scenario.
As a contained story, this is a great place to jump into the Valiant Universe. It’s a solid piece of sci-fi which has probably just the right amount of political context. I think I might have preferred to have seen a bit more satire given the opportunities present, but this have potentially tipped the story into an awkward spot of trying too hard. There is also undoubtedly a lot going on here for a first issue with no let up, and although the characters are engaging enough to keep pace, I’m hoping we get a bit of breathing room to see these develop beyond stereotypes in future issues.
Visually, I also found Armorclads equally competent with so much going on and everything in keeping with the pace of the story. The design of the mech suits is great in that they manage to avoid being over the top or cliché, instead feeling functional yet stylised. In comparison to the combat suits, the worker mechs lack a sense of weight or oomph but that aside they’re well suited (no pun intended) for the task. The alien bug design doesn’t really do it for me, but the effect of the swarm admittedly works rather well. I also found a few of the battle panels to be a tad busy with both the action and a lot of onomatopoeia, but even this works well in portraying the disorientation of what’s being displayed.
As a bonus here we get a sneak peak at the opening of #2. It looks like the fall out of events from this debut will really pick up and everything I was hoping to see more of will be delivered.
[PREVIEW ARTWORK – CLICK TO ENLARGE]
The writer of this piece was: Adam Brown
Adam Tweets from @brother_rooster