Writers: JJ O’Connor & Brian Buccellato
Penciller: Miguel Sepulveda
Inker: Raül Fernández
Letterer: Dave Sharpe
Cover Artist: Bagus Hutomo
Here we are as the Amorclad forces reach the citadel, and get closer to their goal of rescuing Peris. This is an issue in which not a lot happens but also a lot happens. I realise that seems contradictory but basically it means that there’s a huge battle and progress occurs but there’s no resolution yet, no answers and something of a cliff hanger ending. There is action galore and it’s all really well drawn and coloured and that really makes this issue stand out. There are some character moments but the main thrust of this issue is battling all the way and that’s where the strength of Armorclads lies.
Inside the citadel Peris is observing the piece of ancient suit, the god suit, which Governor Dohman is pinning all his hopes of peace and the future on. He comments it looks like a very big gun. He’s not wrong. I get the feeling there’s still some mistrust from Peris, after all how can a gun be the key to peace? It’s a very intimidating bit of equipment but as the Governor exposits to Peris his genetic code might be the key to getting it work. Given that Peris ends up locked up with it a bit later in the issue you have to wonder what might occur.
Meanwhile, outside the citadel, Lela and her band of increasingly recognisable augmented Ironclads are preparing for a full frontal assault on the city. Seeing the Ironclad army massed on the cliff edge looking down is a pretty powerful image (and Jac’s comment about how small it looks is excellent – it does look small from that angle). I also liked how the main characters are actually the shadowy figures in the front on the left. We see them mostly as silhouettes with the rest of the Ironclads behind them. It’s been a strength of the art to show large groups as individuals and that’s the case here. Having those main characters off in shadow on one side really allows us to appreciate those other individuals.
However, before they can attempt their assault the walls are breached by the Legionnaires, who are doing a full frontal assault of their own. The panel of the explosion is suitably chaotic with bright light and the hints of bodies being thrown about. The panel where the Legionnaires breach is equally brutal as they gun down unarmed people with one poor guy having a hole literally blasted through him. It’s brutal and effective, showing the threat of the Legionnaires.
This does mean that our Ironclad characters have a chance to use the diversion of the Legionnaires to get into the citadel with slightly less risk. Now we’ve spent a few issues with these characters it’s easier to pick them out and know their reactions as they discuss their plans. Lela remains the standout but we also have moments from Cole, Jac, Pulo, and even Kira and Sil. The strengths these different characters have come to the fore. We can see the leader is Lela and she continues to be the strategist. Cole is the tech expert, Jac comes across as the young voice, Pulo the second in command and so on. It helps that by this point each of their suits have been heavily augmented in different ways so it’s easy to pick out who is who amongst the chaos.
We also see more of Governor Dohman. We have seen the supposed scientist-politician before but here we see the military leader as he leads the Alphan forces against the Legionnaires. It’s very interesting to see this side to him after he’s spoken to Peris about peace. This is a man very comfortable giving orders and being right in the thick of battle. It means that he is one of the more interesting characters as you are never sure quite where his real ambition lies, having seen him attempt to sweet talk Peris, but also go into battle guns blazing. I liked how his Armorclad was marked out as the leader from the others with a more beefed up design and brighter colours.
The real cliff hanger comes with the Alphan ship full of reinforcements trying to dock with the citadel orbital tether. Even if that’s successful reinforcements will take time to reach the ground. When we were first introduced to the Alphans they were a mighty military force subjugating others. Seeing them here on the back foot, and having to hope for reinforcements, is a really interesting turnaround. It’s fleshing them out a lot this issue.
Overall this is a real action packed issue full of excitement, danger and determination. Our heroes get ever closer to rescuing Peris. I like that this is their goal. They aren’t breaking in to destroy, like the Legionnaires, they are breaking in to rescue their friend. You have to admire that. Why wouldn’t you want to root them? The ending is quite shocking and it’s not clear what is going to happen next with the citadel but of course what is clear is that the Armorclads will be in the thick of it.