In “Armor Hunters: Aftermath” #1 the creative team of writer Robert Venditti, artist CAFU, colorist Brian Reber and letterer Dave Sharpe pick up the pieces following the Armor Hunters wave of destruction. This one-shot swings through the Valiant Universe, checking in on the major players along the way.
Venditti opens “Armor Hunters: Aftermath” #1 with a scene of two rocket watchers set up outside Kennedy Space Center, waiting for the next big thing to grace the space coast. Throngs of tourists join them, awaiting revelation from inside Kennedy, a gathering of hope, looking towards an uncertain future with optimism. The writer makes a nice choice by setting this revelation in Florida, and some nice irony is served up from the pair as they ponder the future that has come to them from the stars, a future that should have been punctuated by visits to the stars. Not only have the stars shaped the future of the world, but a gift from the stars, bequeathed to Aric in the form of the X-O Manowar armor.
In a story titled “Rollout,” Aric prepares to meet the press and to pledge himself to serving the greater good. Venditti fills the last king of the Visigoths with undeniable humility and boundless sense of duty, making him one of the most relatable characters. Livewire and Galid are by his side, as is a surprise companion. GIN-GR, the enormous robot member of the Armor Hunters adjusts to life without the distinct purpose programmed by Primary. Venditti makes a loveably sympathetic character out of “her,” but reserves adding the character to the roster until a future point, as Livewire is tasked with acclimating GIN-GR to a new cause.
Artist CAFU is as comfortable drawing X-O as he is with a conversation between the two rocket watchers. The artist doesn’t overdo the level of detail in each panel, giving just enough to indicate a live-in, roughed-up world, but keeps the energy of gestural drawings present, exaggerating expressions around those enough to animate the panels of “Armor Hunters: Aftermath” #1 nicely. Reber’s colors are on task, only ratcheting up into ostentatious when energy signatures are employed, like X-O’s energy blade, GIN-GR’s expression or Helix’s energetic crackle.
Colonel Capshaw works through an organizational identity crisis as M.E.R.O. becomes G.A.T.E. (Global Agency for Threat Excision) in a dense, transitional tale in the pages of “Armor Hunters: Aftermath” #1. Sharpe’s letters shape the story, making everything flow nicely around and through CAFU and Reber’s artwork. Sound effects and exclamations fill the space allotted, but don’t obscure any storytelling or imagery flow, making “Armor Hunters: Aftermath” #1 a remarkably clean comic book for a “picking up the pieces” adventure. This comic book is a nice bridge between the excited chaos of the “Armor Hunters” battle and the future dawning in the Valiant Universe. It’s not a completely necessary installment, but it certainly adds to the depth and breadth of this universe as heroes and creators alike work to build a more remarkable universe.