This issue kicks things off in an underground bunker in Russia, as Russian armed forces prepare for an apparent break-in of their facility. It turns out that the Armor Hunters (a surgical strike team from the farthest reaches of space) have located what they believe to be the X-O armor, but is nothing more than imitations of the armor being developed from Vine technology scavenged from the wreckage around the planet. After an action packed fight, the two invading Armor Hunters, Quartz and Helix, emerge victorious and relay the information to the rest of their team orbiting the planet.
Meanwhile, Aric of Dacia (the main is possession of the X-O armour) is enjoying some downtime with his people when M.E.R.O (Military Extraterrestrial Reconnaissance Outpost) shows up to inform him of the invasion and escort him to M.E.R.O. headquarters.
Robert Venditti quickly became one of our favorite comic book writers due to his amazing work on X-O Manowar, so it’s great to see him picking up writing duties for another Valiant book.
Readers are quickly thrown into the action without much of a back story which may turn off some but we found thrilling. Venditti could have easily spent time retelling some of the Armor Hunters background, but instead chooses to reveal some of that story through exposition within the story itself. The exposition is done mostly through dialogue which flows quite well and reveals a great deal about the personality of the characters themselves.
We thoroughly enjoyed the character development in this issue, particularly with Primary Reebo. Sure, we’re supposed to believe the Armor Hunters are the “bad guys,” but Venditti shows us that there are always two sides to a story, and Reebo’s speech and actions are quite different when dealing with M.E.R.O. and when dealing with his own people. I look forward to seeing much more out of him, and the rest of the team in future issues.
Doug Braithwaite’s pencil work is also terrific throughout most of this book. There are a couple of panels which seemed a little rough, but didn’t really distract me from the action – and there is a ton of action. Braithwaite’s art truly shines through the dynamic action sequences, but performs just as well during closeups.
Armor Hunters #1 is a terrific start to an event which will determine the direction of the Valiant universe into the future. The Armor Hunters are a formidable force who are truly passionate about their cause – even if it means the destruction of a large city and death of millions.