By: Joshua Dysart, Duane Swierczynski (Writers), Clayton Henry (Artist), Brian Reber (Colorist)
The Story: The kids from Generation Zero prepare for their final stand against whosoever would wish to bring them back in, as Bloodshot prepare to fight against Toyo Harada.
The Review: Before we even get down to it and review this little issue, I strongly urge people to actually go ahead and read the recap page, even if they think they got a pretty strong handle on things. Just look at it and see how many characters we’ve got in this event comic, as close to everyone here actually gets a scene, with close being the keyword here.
Those that actually get a lot more spotlights are the characters that were properly introduced in this very event, which are codenamed ‘’Generation Zero’’ in the recap page. All the characters, which had been hinted and shown a little bit during the first issue, are shown with a little depth as we get to see a bit more of their personality and their powers. We are treated to an explanation of what they can do in action, as they are shown trying to evacuate the citizens of a building in Vegas in which they intend to make their last stand in, as they are fully aware that they shall be met with firm resistance sooner rather than later. Something that I appreciated during their introduction and their little action scene was the fact that these characters are not exactly labelled as good guys, as they are more portrayed in the morally grey area. They kill some innocent along the way, have disgust for the people of Las Vegas, yet you can see that these kids have been raised in a place without any real contact with the rest of the world, believing that their power do make them a little bit better than everyone. You can sympathize with what they went through, yet not necessarily with their methods.
Another character that has a similar approach, or at least had one, that appears in this issue would be Toyo Harada. Continuing from the very last page of last issue, Toyo meets Bloodshot as we are treated to a very well-paced and kind of revealing action scene that works rather well as development as it delves into Harada’s character. Always been presented as an almost invincible wall with his great powers, we get to see him being hurt and in difficulty as the Harada protocols are being activated in Bloodshot system. With the action scene being split into Harada fighting the nanite-powered man and with the psiot kids following him against Harada’s escort, we are shown just what kind of battle psychic-powered people can fight in the Valiant universe. Let’s just say that these kinds of battles are messy and quite inventive in some ways.
Indeed, in this issue we get some major examples of how the Valiant universe might work in the long run. In a lot of superhero universes, some of the powers are handwaved with very simple explanations (Cosmic rays, Mutants, Alien and whatnot), yet here their power are explained in very scientific terms in small black dialogue boxes as they are shown to us. With every psiot showing their power, a little explanation is given, something akin to ‘’Physically project a hard shell around her’’ to ‘’Creates a cyclonic aura of accelerated kinetic matter’’ as their power are manifested in the action scenes. While I don’t actually believe that all the powers in the Valiant universe shall be explained thusly, I do see this as a smart move to differentiate the many properties of this still building universe. Let’s just say I don’t think we’ll be given such explanations in books like Archer and Armstrong or in Shadowman.
What needs no explanation, however, would be the talent of Clayton Henry. In this issue, he is the sole artist instead of being one of several like the first part of this book, which works much better at creating a certain sense of consistency. Here, we can see that Henry has a lot of fun playing with the various powers and their effects, creating many crackling and other such effects in the panels, trying to give a different vibe to every character. He also quite succeeds with the action scenes, depicting them as brutal and unhinged, being absolutely terrific and horrific at the same time. When the horror in the little boy’s mind is unleashed, you can see in the action and in the way it is presented that it is by no mean any good news. Helping set the sense of brutality and the alien look of some of these powers is Brian Reber, who manages to gives a bigger sense of horror and wonders to these strange abilities the psiots possess. The red mist surrounding the monster in question does heighten the sense of dread. With his colors, he does a lot of things to accentuate the many emotions compelled within the issue, yet it also does enhance the grey morality of the whole thing with the proper use of a lot of colder colors.
The Conclusion: With some bombastic, yet subtle character work and some satisfying action scenes, both Dysart and Swierczynski gives us a pretty terrific second chapter of this first event comic from Valiant. With both Clayton Henry and Brian Reber on the art, it also does manage to look pretty and violent at the same time. Kudos to that.
Hugo Robberts Larivière