As a big Pacific Rim/Gundam/build robot suits and have them beat the crap out of each other kind of guy, I quickly jumped at the chance to review Armorclads for the site. Mechs? Check. Dystopian future? Check. Legacy-spanning conspiracies? Triple check! So, imagine my disappointment in seeing that Armorclads just did not live up to the expectations I had for it. This could have expanded the Valiant universe in a very real way, but it teeters between nonsensical and lackadaisical, and that is its biggest crime.
Let’s start with the artwork: Manuel García and Miguel Sepulveda deserve some credit in the world for making this world pop despite an overuse of dark hues. This is a joke: I am admittedly not sure what aesthetic they were going for with their artwork, but unfortunately the color choices they make did nothing to make me excited to return to this world. Their biggest mistake, in my opinion, is they did not make each character distinct enough. When you are building out a world like this, the second most important thing (beyond the actual story) is that every character you’re introducing is memorable even if their appearance is short-lived. In a comic like this, where we are being transported to a world we have very little reference for, the artists have such a responsibility to design this world so that it is both accessible and it pulls you in. They sadly did not deliver here, and that is the first misstep.
The next misstep is the story. There is so much exposition about the world the story takes place in, which would not have been needed if the artwork was used to show the world. I would much rather have been shown this world, while the story told me about the characters living in it, than to spend half a short read like this being told why I should care about this long-forgotten war. Being told that these suits are capable of legendary fears? Also a mistake. Why were we never shown what they could do? This is where the piss-poor art decision causes the story to dovetail even more, except this time I put more blame on the writers because it is their choice to spend even more time telling us why we should even care about this story to begin with. Building out this world’s inhabitants would have made readers care about the use of these powerful entities, but instead you’re left to quickly have to care about the main characters and everything that happened to get us to this point in this universe. The writing was awful, from start to almost finish, with little redeeming qualities for most of the story.
Here we get to the little bit of good in this, and why this is so disappointing to write: the story begins to get better around the 3/4th story point, but it is only because the story is now simplified to an extent. The complications of this destiny-like journey our main character is on rear their head at the end when we are just supposed to accept that they’re the “chosen one.” By this point, it was hard to even care that this was pre-ordained or connected to the war from eons ago. The protagonist was forgettable, as was the world, and most of the story, and it just feels like someone dropped a multitude of balls from the idea phase of this story to the implementation.
Overall, Armorclads feels like a 1-star title. The story should’ve been fleshed out differently, so as to make the final reveal mean more. Instead, we got an exposition-heavy story with a boring protagonist and a forgettable McGuffin amidst really poor art.