Mech in the middle

Publisher: Valiant
Writers: JJ O’Connor & Brian Buccellato with Ryan Cady (epilogue)
Penciller: Miguel Sepulveda
Inker: Raül Fernández
Colourist: Hi-Fi
Letterer: Dave Sharpe
Cover Artist: Bagus Hutomo

Here we are at the finale of Armorclads. Finally there’s a showdown at the Citadel and we get the answer as to what exactly that big old mech weapon does. I have to say this was a solid finale. It feels like it took a few issues for Armorclads to really find its feet but by this point it feels like there’s a well sketched plot and the characters feel more individual. As a result this is a far more satisfying finale than I might have otherwise expected. Not that it is the end of the tale, as there is plenty of setup as to what may come next but as arcs go this was a decent wrap up.

Last issue the Legionnaires had breached the Citadel and the Alphans were under siege. In the chaos Lela and her Ironclad forces were close to reaching their goal of rescuing Peris who was left alone with the remains of the mech suit. If you wanted or expected massive battles as I did then you won’t be disappointed. The action is solid and the art really gives life the vast array of explosions and fights.

The action art has always worked well but is particularly noteworthy this issue as there’s so much variety in the action. Alphan ships blowing up and and falling from the sky, fire as the Citadel burns, giant Legionnaire bugs attacking mech suits and Ironclads slicing and dicing said giant Legionnaire bugs. It’s a real variety but it works. Large panels and entire pages showing off explosions with detail and bright colour.

Of course the real amazing moment comes when Peris activates the weapon for the first time. The result is rather spectacular both art and plot wise. It’s good to see that bit of mech suit finally pay off. It’s been several issues since we first saw it and although we guessed the function, as it did look like a really big gun, it was still impressive to see the payoff.

It was also good to see the Ironclads reunite with Peris. By this final issue we know who they are quite well and it was good that amongst the battle there were still a few moments where the characters interacted as they battled the chaos. I appreciated that detail as it would be so easy to lean into the carnage and battle action but there are still some moments for our Ironclad characters. Seeing them finally reunited with Peris was worth the wait. I have been waiting for that reunion for some time and I liked how it developed.

It feels like this issue really does set things up for a new order. Looking back the overall pacing of this series has worked out in the end. This issue feels most assured with the pacing and it doesn’t feel too slow or too rushed as it moves toward the conclusion. Sometimes in the final issue of an arc it feels like there’s too much story to fit in, not giving the story the space to naturally reach the arc endpoint.

I have enjoyed spending time with the Ironclads. I find it interesting that this series is titled Armorclads when it fact the stars of the show have been the Ironclads throughout and that’s very much the case this issue where the Ironclad army really come into their own. If you want a panel with a heroic shot of Ironclads surging forward then this is the issue for you. They certainly look like they mean business. Lela, Peris, Pulo, Cole and Jac are still the standouts and hopefully we will get to know them even better going forward.

For there is a very strong hint we’ll see more. There’s questions about what happens next for our Ironclads and the weapon Peris can now control. The Alphans have suffered a big defeat, what happens to that world next with Legionnaires taking over the citadel and Ironclads now an army capable of taking on Legionnaires and Armorclads alike and winning. I would be interested to see more of the Alphans. After-all the Ironclads took quite a few prisoner in earlier issues.

The big thing for me though is the epilogue. As a series Armorclads has stood on its own, not part of the Valiant universe at large. It seems like that is going to change and the epilogue brings in a connection I did not see coming, an unexpected choice of character to bridge the gap between the Valiant universe we already know and the Armorclads part of the universe. I am intrigued as to what happens next and how this will come about.

I would say that Armorclads has been such a good addition to Valiant. It’s been something new and different. For that alone I have to say it’s been worthwhile. This is a strong conclusion and one I think really shows the strengths of Armorclads with the action and the plot really working harmoniously. Also there is a rather excellent lettered ‘Nooooo’ moment which I am always a fan of. If you want to try something of Valiant’s output where you don’t need prior knowledge then Armorclads (up until the epilogue) works really well and is a solid stepping stone into Valiant as a publisher. The epilogue brings in a wider universe reference (though still not impenetrable to a newbie) and as a fan got me excited.

I look forward to more Armorclads and seeing more of the Ironclads as this was an accomplished final arc issue.

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