If you’re following Valiant’s Armor Hunters four-part series, then you understand the enormous threat that Earth faces. Armor Hunters #1 sought to leave the reader with a pit in their stomach in its conclusion; in this second issue, Valiant wants to take that pit and leave a chasm in its place. The Armor Hunters only move forward in this issue, and we see, in grim and bloody detail, more of the devastation that they are capable of causing.
This issue picks up immediately after #1 left off, showing us the aftermath of a ruined Mexico City and the reaction of an unknowing, unprepared world. Given that this is supposed to be Valiant’s supreme crossover event, characters like Bloodshot, Livewire, and Ninjak are weaved in, introduced, and placed squarely against the Armor Hunters. This issue soon becomes one of increased tensions. Aric Darcia, the U.S. government, and even the Hunters show signs of stress. Revelations surface regarding Darcia’s alien armor, revealing that he may not be able to keep the planet safe, even if the Hunters fail their mission. Despite the raised stakes, however, decisions get made quickly, rashly, and are essentially reactionary. Two distinct groups of beings are defending their entire existence, so it only makes sense.
The emotional payoff throughout the comic, though, largely depends on your investment in the Valiant universe. A reader who has followed Darcia throughout his current run – which began back in 2012 – will definitely feel more at home than a reader who is picking up the universe from Armor Hunters. I want to feel a connection to Darcia, to his people, to the entire population of the Earth, but it’s becoming clear that in this series, some prior involvement in Darcia’s story will only serve to help. Of course, I cannot hold this against Armor Hunters. I can only say that new readers will have to set aside a bit of time to really digest this series.
Nonetheless, this issue delivered on building off of the events that transpired in #1. It touched (though, sadly, only briefly) on the more human elements that come with facing certain extinction, but readers will have a more action-oriented, plot-moving read in this issue of Armor Hunters. You can’t really fault this comic for not focusing on the emotional side of things. The world might be ending, after all, and the end comes fast.
If you lend yourself to this universe, as I am slowly doing, you may end up in my position, hoping that there will be an Earth left to root for in the final issues of Armor Hunters.