Monday, November 12, 2012

Archer & Armstrong and Bloodshot #1-3 review

Archer & Armstrong #1-3 by Fred Van Lente, Clayton Henry, and Matt Milla

Over ten thousand years ago, Armstrong’s brother Ivar activated The Boon – an instrument of the Gods that supposedly granted eternal life – to save their brother Gilad (old-school Valiant readers know Gilad as The Eternal Warrior). The Boon ended the world. Since then, Armstrong hid the six pieces of The Boon but various sects have been trying to put it all together for thousands of years.

Meanwhile Archer is a kid raised in an amusement park with more than a dozen foster kids all being trained to be warriors. When Archer is unleashed on the world to kill Armstrong, he’ll discover that his parents are evil and that Armstrong is a hero trying to keep a very dangerous weapon from being used for evil.

The original pull to this series was the contrast between the honorable but naïve Archer and the boisterous and inappropriate Armstrong. The first issue sets this relationship up and #2 and #3 do a great job showing these characters trading really funny lines. Archer and Armstrong’s motivations and missions are clearly laid out and both characters are likable. And who doesn’t like watching “nunjas” get smacked down.

Another welcome addition to the Valiant reboot.

Bloodshot #1-3 by Duane Swierczynski, Manuel Garcia, and Arturo Lozzi

Bloodshot is a nanite-infused super soldier who leaves his loving family’s side to go on one last mission to save his friend. When Bloodshot winds up in the hands of the man who helped create him, he learns that his life is actually many lives preprogrammed in his brain so that his handlers can change the channel to whatever scenario they need to motivate him. Driven crazy by the memories of many different sets of wives and children, Bloodshot is looking for answers.

Bloodshot was always a violent title but the first book does a great job introducing Bloodshot’s mission and putting him through his paces. When the character is parachuting down for a job and gets fatally injured I think we’re about to see the story of a guy who is dead or close to death who gets experimented on until he’s unrecognizable and can’t ever see his family again. Instead, the nanites are already a part of him and rebuild him even when he’s fatally injured. Bloodshot is already Bloodshot. The twist comes when you find out that the man with the loving family has multiple sets of families and that none of them truly exist.

With a full memory of his many lives, Bloodshot’s brain processes information from the nanties by showing him various family members who always appear to tell him what the nanites detect. It’s a nice touch to give Bloodshot the information while rubbing salt in the wounds. The first issue of the book’s front inside cover describes what various abilities the nanites give Bloodshot as well as their possible weaknesses.

The first three issues deliver a few mysteries. Is Kuretich, who downloaded all of Bloodshot’s memories and gave Bloodshot access to them, really a bad guy or is he trying to do the right thing by exposing Project Rising Spirit. Once Pulse gets free, is she going to be on Bloodshot’s side (she thought Bloodshot was dead and it didn’t seem to bother her and she encourages killing him – but her expression is horrified when he gets shot).

Overall, Valiant is building a universe and Bloodshot is a welcome addition.

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