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Shad99 (England)

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Archer & Armstrong Deluxe Edition Book 2 (Archer & Armstrong DLX Hc)
Archer & Armstrong Deluxe Edition Book 2 (Archer & Armstrong DLX Hc)
by David Baron
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £20.39

5.0 out of 5 stars Great Ending for this First A+A Run, 22 Jun. 2016
What can I say? Just look at the amount of reading that's in this book for you, and all of it's worth every penny.

Following on from the first deluxe collection the comics only improve as they hurtle toward the end of this first run of the Archer and Armstrong story, so the 'main story' itself would be enough to make this book worth buying. The #0: Archer issue and the Bloodshot crossover issues included in this book literally make the icing on the cake of this one. Personally I think the book could have been improved by publishing the two 'Bloodshot' issues in this book that were also part of the crossover, but just pick up the Bloodshot TPB to fill those in and you've got the whole story.

All in all there's no way I could do anything other than recommend this book, so it's a must for any A+A fan.


Archer & Armstrong Deluxe Edition Vol. 1 (Archer & Armstrong (2012- ))
Archer & Armstrong Deluxe Edition Vol. 1 (Archer & Armstrong (2012- ))
Price: £20.15

5.0 out of 5 stars Just Brilliant, 22 Jun. 2016
Well, when this comic was first announced it was thought that there was no way that it could have been written better than the original. Fred van Lente however have proven without a doubt that this notion was undoubtedly wrong: In this first Archer and Armstrong deluxe collection FVL does a truly fantastic job of both establishing the lead pair and endearing them to the reader. There isn't a moment when you're not willing these guys to succeed, especially when they're bickering with each other as these two incredibly mismatched characters find their way around their differences and start forming the beginnings of a long-running and rock-solid friendship.

Great humour in this book is balanced well with more serious moments and there are some brilliant seeds planted early on in the plot that ripple through both to later issues of the comic and other comics in the Valiant line.

The only thing I can recommend more than buying this collected edition is also buying the second volume at the same time to make a marathon read of it!


Archer & Armstrong Volume 7: The One Percent and Other Tales
Archer & Armstrong Volume 7: The One Percent and Other Tales
by Ray Fawkes
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.68

5.0 out of 5 stars Great Collection of Mini Stories, 22 Jun. 2016
Great collection of one-off stories in this book. Although the stories aren't strictly part of the main A+A story, they mostly expand and add depth to the characters/factions featured in the main story so for anyone wanting a bit of depth from the main story this is a good read. The stories themselves are definitely entertaining enough in their own right, so although some might want to consider them 'filler', at the very least they're entertaining 'filler', and let's face it, the only reason anyone buys comics is to be entertained to quit whining and buy the book already, because it's providing on the fundamental level - can't say fairer than that ;)

The 1% and Mary Maria stories are particularly good, so all in all I'd definitely say this is a book that's worth reading for any Archer and Armstrong fan!


Archer & Armstrong Volume 6: American Wasteland
Archer & Armstrong Volume 6: American Wasteland
by Fred Van Lente
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.68

5.0 out of 5 stars Great Wrap-up to this First Archer and Armstrong Run, 22 Jun. 2016
Truly novel and entertaining plot in this arc of Archer and Armstrong, with a really clever plot mechanic that explains and underlies an otherwise peculiar setting and cast! As usual great humour and the ongoing character development, particularly of the relationship between the pals Archer and Armstrong, continues to impress.

Entertaining mini-stories in the 25th issue here by a variety of writers and artists that finish the book with a bit of something different which I thought was rather enjoyable.

Definitely recommend this book, especially as the basic gist of who the characters are and what they're doing at this point in time is summarised right in the start of the book, so people can just read this arc as a one-off if they want to so it's a good book to get a taste of what Archer and Armstrong is all about, although of course I would recommend reading the previous TPBs too just because they're good reading.


Archer & Armstrong Volume 5: Mission: Improbable
Archer & Armstrong Volume 5: Mission: Improbable
by Pere Perez
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Great Crossover: NOT Improbable!, 28 Sept. 2014
Absolutely loved this one.

First crossover featuring Valiant comics Archer and Armstrong and Bloodshot: HARD Corps. Worth noting here, for any keen readers of Bloodshot, that this is the only book in print to date that contain Bloodshot issues #20 and #21. The reason for this being that they were specifically written for this crossover, and weren't canonical with the rest of the Bloodshot comics. Of course, they do fit in wonderfully in this volume as sequential narrative.

The crossover itself is fantastic good fun. Full of some really zany moments, the book is an action-packed thrill ride from front cover to back. Definitely not a 'serious' read this one, but most definitely a highly entertaining action/comedy book. Even the usually serious character Bloodshot, whilst not cracking out-of-character one-liners, is used to good comedy effect. Other characters play off of him in their typical comedic ways, and even some of Bloodshot's own stereotypical mannerisms are played out in a tongue-in-cheek way (gun-fu anyone?!).

The action in the book is great, and there's always a decent sense of motion throughout, which makes some of the more intense moments nice and easy to follow and enjoy. The colouring is really vivid which is something that I liked, and keeps the tone of the book from falling into a more realistic or gritty feel. Definitely light-hearted throughout.

Also collects A+A issue 'Archer: #0', which is vital reading for anyone that's into the series, as it delves quite deeply into Archer's background, and certainly reveals one or two things!

Definitely a great book from Valiant, would strongly recommend buying a copy.


Archer & Armstrong Volume 4: Sect Civil War
Archer & Armstrong Volume 4: Sect Civil War
by Fred Van Lente
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Archer and Armstrong: Reliably Brilliant, 28 Sept. 2014
Collecting issues 14-17 of Valiant's 'Archer and Armstrong' comic, this book puts the gas pedal through the floor as the tenuously-allied Sect finds its organisation collapsing in on itself, all thanks to the book's protagonists, Archer and Armstrong (and also Ivar, the Time Walker!).

As ever the book is a great read, full of action, intrigue, comedy and drama as the two 'heroes' and their supporting cast find their way from the front of the book to the back. The writing is intelligent, entertaining and genuinely funny, with lots of witty little quips, one-liners, in jokes and visual gags. I'd really be surprised if somebody manages to read this from front to back without actually laughing out loud at least once, so for those that like their reads a little lighter in tone, this book should really suit.

The art is a pleasure to look over throughout, and some of the colouring really helps add tone and feeling to the particular panel or page, and some of it helps to add to the sense of action occuring. Overall a very nice book to look at.

As with my reviews of previous Archer and Armstrong volumes, I'd have to heartily recommend that if people aren't reading A+A by now, they'd better get started, or miss out!


Unity Volume 2: Trapped By Webnet
Unity Volume 2: Trapped By Webnet
by Lee Garbett
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Another Great Unity Book From Valiant, 28 Sept. 2014
Continuing on from the first volume, this is another cracking read in Valiant's 'Unity' series.

Amazing writing so far has built a good reputation for the series, and this book doesn't disappoint. It opens up a new plotline with the introduction of a new heavyweight villian in the Valiant universe, 'Doctor Silk', who has also recently appeared in Valiant's 'Rai' comic. The plot is intelligently thought out, and for me felt a bit like a James Bond film with a bit of sci-fi thrown in. Definitely compelling stuff, and it's certainly not a typical read, as the combination of sci-fi elements in a modern-day setting definitely keeps the reader on their toes. Full of twists and turns, and the action elements also keep things moving along at a good pace.

The art is fantastic throughout, and although it's a cliched phrase, the characters really do 'jump off the page' and give the reader something to keep the eye happy whilst reading. There are also some impressive locations and backgrounds drawn in here too, so the book really is a treat to look at. Personally I think the ink-over-pencils gives the comic a nice style that makes certain elements of it seem a little more realistic.

There are some hugely entertaining sequences in this volume too, with a battle on a sinking ship being a particular highlight. The 'Manowar Armour' battle featuring the character 'Livewire' is particularly interesting, as those interested in the wider Valiant universe will no doubt be speculating about the creation of Valiant's 4001 timeline settings based on visual components that occur during the battle.

All in all, I'd say this is probably one of Valiant's best titles coming out at the moment, so I'd highly recommend giving it a read.


Bloodshot Volume 5: Get Some and Other Stories
Bloodshot Volume 5: Get Some and Other Stories
by Bart Sears
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Bloodshot: HARD Corps!, 27 Sept. 2014
This trade paperback includes Valiant's Bloodshot and the H.A.R.D. Corps: H.A.R.D. Corps #0, and Bloodshot and the H.A.R.D. Corps issues #18, 19, 22 and 23. Issues 20 and 21 were crossover issues with Archer and Armstrong and can be found in the Archer & Armstrong Volume 5 Mission: Improbable TPB.

Tense book from Valiant here with the fifth book in the Bloodshot series. This volume wraps up his relationship with PRS' H.A.R.D. Corps team, and keeps the pedal to the metal the whole way.

The book starts with a conflict between Bloodshot and the HARD Corps and a team of renegade psiot-powered (read, 'super-power' for those unfamiliar with the term 'psiot') soldiers, who offer more than a fair match for the HARD Corps team. There's a particularly clever and poignant exchange during the battle between two 'dropout' members, one from each team, that makes for unexpected and highly welcome reading to say the least, as it offsets the action of the rest of the battle perfectly.

The second half of the book ramps up in intrigue and action as the relationship between Bloodshot and the HARD Corps sours, and inevitably fractures. The book gets complex with possible motives for the involved reader where character interactions are concerned, and the action ramps up as a conflict between Bloodshot and the HARD Corps brews. An unexpected event occurrs during the battle and keeps things interesting, so all in all, like usual, Bloodshot is a bit 'thinky' and a bit 'action', which in my book is an enjoyable mix.

Definitely recommend picking this one up, especially for people that've been following the Bloodshot story so far.


X-O Manowar Volume 5: At War With Unity
X-O Manowar Volume 5: At War With Unity
by Robert Venditti
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Aric: A Changing Man, 27 Sept. 2014
Brilliant book this one.

Reads concurrently with the events occurring in Valiant's 'Unity' comic, and adds a well-worth reading extra dimension to the overall plot of the two stories.

There's a different art style for each collected comic within the volume that some may find slightly jarring. Personally I don't, but just letting everyone know that's there. I actually quite enjoyed the changing art style from comic to comic, as the art and colours seem to really fit the events of each individual comic, giving them a tone and 'feel' that really benefitted what's happening in each one. The first issue is particularly striking in its art style.

Quite a seminal book to read for those interested in Aric of Dacia, the main character of the book, or the comic 'X-O Manowar' in general, as Aric undergoes a significant change in character as he continues to adapt to the new time era he finds himself attempting to survive in. For those unfamiliar: Don't misunderstand. The character isn't undergoing 'trendy' change for the sake of change, as is often seen in Marvel books for the sake of keeping things interesting. Aric's 'change' in this book is a natural story-based change of character that makes perfect sense within the context of the comic. Again, for those unfamiliar with the book, Aric is a Visigoth warrior, born in the days before Christ, who's returned to Earth many, many centuries later (into current modern day) due to being kidnapped by an alien race. Whilst aboard their slave ship, time has passed differently in space than it has on Earth, so whilst only a few years passed on the ship, centuries passed on Earth. Aric is essentially a 'man out of time' as he returns to Earth with his Visigoth way of life, and has to adapt to the modern way of life, and all the changes that have come with it. This is why the 'changes in character' in this book are genuine: Aric is genuinely changing his way of thinking and acting in order to be able to function more correctly as a civil human being in today's world, and it's a huge component of this book. Fortunately it's compelling to watch him changing, which offsets the action elements the book nicely.

The book does have its action elements, especially the second book, and some brilliant art to go with it and make it really come to life. There's a great sense of motion within the action frames which makes them a pleasure to read.

All in all, a fantastic book and no doubt a must-read for all X-O Manowar fans!


Unity Volume 1: To Kill A King
Unity Volume 1: To Kill A King
by Matt Kindt
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely Amazing New Series from Valiant, 25 July 2014
This.

THIS is what comic readers need to be reading right now. Screw Marvel, Screw DC: Unity by Valiant is one of the best damn comics on the shelves, and if you're not already reading it then you have my condolences.

I won't discuss the plot of the book here: You can read it for yourself.

What needs to be discussed is what's happening *with* the comic here: One reviewer was complaining that he didn't know who he was supposed to be routing for 'to win' in this book. This is one of the things that makes the entire Valiant Universe so compelling: Every character in it has their own set of believable motives, so when they act, the reasons behind their actions damn near always drop the character into a grey area of ethic and morality. It's precisely this kind of writing that gives the reader cause to think about the characters from a unique perspective, and to make their own judgements on whether the character was 'right', or 'wrong' in a particular instance, and to make up their own mind on who they should be routing for. Even (especially!) Valiant's villains are more often than not acting out of some kind rationale that justifies their actions in one way or another as possibly being beneficial to 'the greater good'. If you don't know who to route for when reading Valiant, it's simply because you haven't reached out and made this choice yourself: this choice isn't handed to you patronisingly on a silver plate.

Without telling you how good the character work is (because you should already know from having read the previous paragraph), the plot takes place in some epic and exotic locations, of which are drawn brilliantly (as are the characters), and the plot is well-executed, with an entertaining and perhaps unexpected twist at the end, and the battle between Aric and the 'Unity' group is particularly exciting, as it's not the guns 'n swords 'n powers type of battle that you might have been expecting.

Most definitely the book I look forward to reading the most each month in comic form, really can't stress enough how good this really is. If you haven't already read it, you've really got no excuse with the price it's available for right here on Amazon.


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