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November 5, 2010

Matt Digs into “The Reconcilers,” Finds Some Feldspar

When I was twelve, my uncle Dave took me aside and showed me a wonderful movie: the timeless action classic, The Running Man. Starring the pinnacle of acting, Arnold Schwarzenegger, The Running Man is set in a dystopian future where contestants enter a cruel game show where murdering the lethal “hunters” is the only way to survive.

Years later, I would play a game called Red Faction, where a single miner would lead a revolt against a merciless corporation, after being pushed one step too far. The miner was mad as heck, and just couldn’t take it anymore. He wouldn’t be pushed around by the big corporation, so he would fight back.

With those hundred and twelve words, I have summed up the plot of The Reconcilers.

The Reconcilers is a title from Viking Warrior Press, an indie publisher who seem to only be publishing this title at the moment. It is written by Erik Jensen and drawn by Shepherd Hendrix. It features some decent cover art from Neal Adams, the writer who got Green Arrow’s sidekick Speedy addicted to heroin in the 70s. However, “My Ward is a Junkie!” this is not.

The story takes place in the near future, in a sci-fi world where there are numerous mining corporations vying for resources. The main characters belong to a smaller corporation called Hansen, Inc., while the villains belong to the much more ominous-sounding Sokor. In short, these two companies are at odds because the much-larger Sokor corporation has laid claim to a dig site discovered by Hansen; because the underdogs can never give up without a fight, the two companies must field teams against one another in a death match called a reconciliation. Whoever survives, wins.

Giving the skinny bastards a fighting chance is John Hexhammer, the miner with the necessary mysterious past. As a former gladiator, he must train the patchwork team into a force to be reckoned with, all while watching other teams get decimated. It’s those scenes that echo films greatly; obviously we can’t put the heroes against a deadly force without them, you know, dying, so they instead must give us a couple rounds of hopeless massacre so we get that the other team is a big deal.

Eventually, the good guys win and Hexhammer gets over his daddy, family, and caring issues, going on to probably banging the obvious love interest when they get out of the gladiatorial arena.

My question, though, is where do we go from there? From the title of the story, I have a feeling that Jensen wants us to focus on the fighting itself; if he didn’t, he wouldn’t focus so much of the story on it with so little flashbacks/explanations in between. However, these fights aren’t something you can have every issue/volume without sacrificing characterization. The Hansen team loses a couple characters during the fight, and apparently you must be an employee of two years in order to take part in them, period – who’s going to replace them? If there aren’t any replacements, are there going to be any more fights? Are they going to shift character focus? Is it going to devolve into a “bring down the big corporations” thing? Because if it is, you should put down this book and give “Planet Hulk” another read. It does the gladiator combat and political/character drama a lot better, with a lot better art.

I also don’t mean to nitpick, but I don’t like when big names attached to books get so high billing, when, like in this case, they are only drawing covers or “executive editing.” Having the writer of the book as the third name on the billing (behind Adams and Viking Warrior Press president R. Emery Bright) sends me the message that you would rather sell books based on big names than give creators the time to shine. It’s like what Stan Lee’s doing nowadays: how many books are being sold just for the fact that his signature’s on the freakin’ cover?

However, I shall give The Reconcilers props for the numerous schematic drawings included in the graphic novel, though. If there’s one thing I like, it’s seeing how things work. The Reconcilers showed me that, even if it was for a giant stone hammer.

Matt Demers
contact@ComicAttack.net

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