Four Letter Nerd

Tag - Raul Allen

4LN Advanced Comic Review – SECRET WEAPONS #1

Writer: Eric Heisserer
Art: Raúl Allén and Patricia Martín
Publisher: Valiant Comics

Summary:

The government has dispatched Amanda McKee – the technopath codenamed Livewire – to investigate the ruins of a secret facility formerly run by Toyo Harada, the most powerful telepath on Earth and her former mentor. In his quest for world betterment at any cost, Harada sought out and activated many potential psiots like himself. Those who survived, but whose powers he deemed to have no value to his cause, were hidden away at this installation. But Livewire, having studied Harada’s greatest strengths and learned his deepest weaknesses, senses opportunity where he once saw failure. A young girl who can talk to birds… A boy who can make inanimate objects gently glow… To others, these are expensive disappointments. But, to Livewire, they are secret weapons…in need of a leader. Now, as a mechanized killer called Rex-O seeks to draw them out, Livewire and her new team of cadets will be forced to put their powers into action…in ways they never could have imagined…

SECRET WEAPONS works on multiple levels.  We will get into the main two levels – story and art – shortly, but on a personal level, the book’s setting is my favorite part.  SECRET WEAPONS takes place in downtown Oklahoma City near Bricktown, a place I’ve been many times.  While I am a Nashville native, OKC and surrounding areas is home to almost all of my family.  Seeing Livewire and the psiots she is working to protect roam streets that I’ve personally driven is pretty awesome.  I’m sure New Yorkers are tired of it, what with 98% of the Marvel universe rampaging through NYC, but as a son of two Okies, I love seeing it represented in comics.

SECRET WEAPONS looks and reads beautifully.  It is written by Arrival screenwriter Eric Heisserer, who is also the screenwriter for the upcoming Bloodshot and Harbinger films.  It appears that this might be his comic book debut, and it’s damn fine.  The characters are unique, and the odd powers the psiots exhibit (making inanimate objects glow, talking to birds, etc.) lead to some really good comic relief when the story gets dark.  Heisserer is joined by Raúl Allén and Patricia Martín, who go the extra mile to deliver some truly beautiful art.  Allén has such a unique style that almost resembles a type of pop art, and Martín’s colors are beautifully vibrant. One of the coolest things about this book is the work Heisserer and Allén put into making the setting authentic.  Each of the major locations are modeled after real-life landmarks in Oklahoma City, and that attention to detail sets this book apart.

If you’ve never picked up a Valiant title before, this is a good place to start. The creative team hit a home-run with all facets of this book. SECRET WEAPONS hits the stands on on June 28th, so tell your shop to order you a copy or two!

4LN Comic Review – Harbinger Renegade #1

Series – Harbinger Renegade
Writer – Rafer Roberts
Art – Darick Robertson, Juan José Ryp, and Raúl Allén
Color Artist –Diego Rodriguez, and and Frankie D’Armata
Publisher – Valiant Entertainment

Summary from Valiant Entertainment:

ANYONE YOU KNOW COULD BECOME A PSIONICALLY POWERED “HARBINGER” WITH THE POTENTIAL TO RESHAPE THE COURSE OF HUMAN HISTORY. YOUR NEIGHBOR. YOUR BOSS. YOUR BEST  FRIEND. YOUR KIDS. Six months ago, a secret team of renegade whistleblowers leaked the existence of these extraordinarily dangerous individuals to a stunned world. Today, all across the country, crude, DIY psiot activation attempts have left hundreds brain damaged…or worse. The emergence of a new psiot in a community often leads to riots and mass violence. Gun sales are through the roof. America is terrified of what could happen next. With this revolutionary upheaval now in motion, Kris Hathaway, John “Torque” Torkelson, Faith “Zephyr” Herbert, and Peter Stanchek are about to discover their calling. Together, the HARBINGER RENEGADES are moving from town to town, building their ranks, and subverting authority one mind at a time…and setting out to prove once and for all that behind their power, there has always been a purpose. This November, the most fearless superteam in comics is going underground for AN ALL-NEW ONGOING SERIES from Harvey Award nominated writer Rafer Roberts (Plastic Farm) and superstar artist Darick Robertson (Transmetropolitan,The Boys)!

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Harbinger Renegade has to be one of my most anticipated books of the year. Ever since the book was teased, my internal clock has been ticking down the days until it hits the stands. The previous 25 issue run of Harbinger was a terrific story with great characters, and it appears the superteams reemergence is going to pick up the torch and run with it.

Before we get into the nitty gritty of the book, let’s start off with the cons: there aren’t any. This is one of the strongest debut issues I’ve read in a while. I really like Rafer Roberts and his work on A&A has been really fun, but the tones of these two series are vastly different. I was curious to see how his writing style would adapt to the darker tone of the Renegades.

Well worry not Valianteers, this issue was awesome.

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Roberts gets each member of the Renegades right, and the cult leader, Enfuego (because he has fire powers), is sufficiently crazed. I really enjoyed seeing how the now-disbanded Renegades deal with the less-than-stellar consequences at the end of the first series. It certainly wasn’t a storybook ending, and each member is dealing with it differently. As we’ve seen in Jody Houser’s Faith on-going, Faith is one of the only Renegades still wearing the superhero mantle, while Torque and Kris are each handling it inline with the personalities of the characters (which shows that Rafer did his homework and is staying true to the characters).  Oh, and there is a new villain on the block, and I am interested to see how he challenges both the Renegades and Valiant’s original big bad Toyo Harada.

Now lets talk about the art. This issue has a several creative teams, and all of them are terrific.  The book opens with a cool minimalist looking introduction by Raúl Allen, who has been doing some great work on Valiant’s Wrath of the Eternal Warrior.  The introduction gives a quick recap of the original run to get the reader up to speed on the main players and terms of Harbinger.  Then Juan José Ryp gives us a brief look at Harada trying to take down his mysterious competition.  Like all of his work, Ryp’s art is strong and visceral.  Finally, the main story is illustrated by Darrick Robertson, who has a cool style vaguely reminiscent of 90’s art to my untrained, casual comic reader eye.  His panel breakdowns on each page are really interesting, and the last few panels in space are just beautiful.

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Like I said, I have been waiting on this book since it was first teased last year.  A lot of times, the anticipation can lead to a sense of being let-down since you kind of over-sell the idea of the book to yourself BUT Rafer Roberts and company deliver on every level.  Make sure you head down to your local comic store and pick up Harbinger Renegade today!

PS. make sure to save the coupons in this series to mail in and get a copy of Harbinger Wars 2 #0!.

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4LN Advance Comic Review – Wrath of the Eternal Warrior #1

Series: Wrath of the Eternal Warrior
Writer: Robert Venditti
Art: Raúl Allen
Publisher: Valiant

Summary from Valiant Database:

For five millennia, the Eternal Warrior has shaped history at the end of his sword. He’s razed empires, toppled civilizations, and broken armies as an immortal soldier in service to the Earth.

But now, the Eternal Warrior has been torn from the world he once protected and finds himself stranded in a hostile alien landscape unlike any he’s faced before. Separated from his earthly environs, can history’s deadliest soldier survive a realm far older, far deadlier, and fare more ruinous than anything he’s ever encountered? Beyond Earth lies eternity…

This November, New York Times best-selling writer Robert Venditti (BOOK OF DEATH, X-O MANOWAR) and visionary artist Raúl Allén (NINJAK, Hawkeye) forge a new legend for Valiant’s master of war with an all-new ongoing series in…WRATH OF THE ETERNAL WARRIOR #1!

 

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Before we get started, I want to let you, the reader, know that I will do everything I can from giving anything away about the story.  Instead, I will focus on why it was so good.

I have been looking forward to the return of Gilad, the Eternal Warrior, since the end of the last three issue mini-series Eternal Warrior: Days of Steel by Peter Milligan and Cary Nord (the artist that did that awesome variant cover above).  Despite only having a total of 11 stand-alone issues, Gilad has always been one of my favorite characters and was actually first step into the Valiant Universe.

When Wrath of the Eternal Warrior was announced, I immediately began to wonder who the writer was going to be.  I was nervous at first, because I really wanted this series to hit the ground running so I could get more than a couple of issues of a stand-alone Eternal Warrior title.  Then Valiant announced that none other than the Valiant Chosen One (and Green Lantern Guru), Robert Venditti, would be at the helm.  For the uninitiated (you really should get initiated – we have hand-signals and everything), Venditti kick-started the new Valiant by writing the flagship title X-O Manowar, and is also responsible for the Book of Death event, both of which have been excellent.

Wrath of the Eternal Warrior is a surprisingly intimate tale that reads more like myth than it does a comic.  We have seen Gilad speak of immortality as a curse, and this issue delves in to what makes this even more tragic than we realize.  Instead of just battle after battle, we get to see the toll Gilad’s dedication to protecting the Geomancer lineage takes on him, as well as those most important to him.  He has always been this gloomy, brooding character, and we have had hints as to why, but this issue lays it out in a beautiful and powerful way.

Joining Robert Venditti is the incredibly talented Raúl Allen who puts out some wonderful work in this issue.  Allen’s landscapes are haunting at times and warm in others, and ultimately perfectly in sync with the story.  Mixed in with these grand full page spreads are series of small panels that provide an interesting look into what Gilad is experiencing and the anguish in the choice he always has to make.

Venditti and Allen put out a startlingly great first issue that looks to provide new insight into Valiant’s most noble characters.  Very few books made me feel like I immediately had to reread them, but I immediately picked up again Wrath of the Eternal Warrior #1 after I set it down.  The story was intimately epic and lays the groundwork for some fascinating future issues.  While this issue is terrific, it would be good for readers to read the Book of Death and The Valiant minis before diving into it.  The Valiant sets up Book of Death which, in turn, gives rise to Wrath of the Eternal Warrior.    If you like noble heroes and epic tales with a sprinkle of Greek tragedy, then this is the book for you.

Wrath of the Eternal Warrior will hit the racks on November 18th!  See below for a preview of the book courtesy of Valiant.

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