"Book of Death #1" Comic Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by Valiant Entertainment
Written by Robert Venditti
Illustrated by Robert Gill with Doug Braithwaite
2015, 34 Pages, $3.99
Comic released on July 15th, 2015
After bringing all the heroes together in The Valiant, the publisher aims to tear them all apart in the next big event, Book of Death. A new Geomancer has emerged in the form of a young girl from the future. Armed with a mysterious book that foretells a dark future, she's on the run with the Eternal Warrior who has vowed to protect her at all costs. Meanwhile, some evil forces are working to kill her and anyone close to her. Unity, the team including heroes like X-O Manowar and Ninjak, are also on their trail, looking to bring them in and stop this death that seems to be following them around.
Here's the thing about Valiant: the publisher knows how to put together a damn fine event book. You're not going to have to pick up a dozen tie-in issues in order to get the full story. Everything you need is included in this main series and that includes a brief write-up on each of the main characters. While longtime Valiant fans will find a lot to enjoy, newcomers will be able to dive in without needing to read through years of back issues to understand what's going on. That's a big plus right off the bat.
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Getting into the story itself, we rarely see plants as scary outside of maybe that tree in Evil Dead. That changes here. There's a double-page spread early on in this issue that features a small park in Ashlee, Wyoming, with dozens of bodies hanging from its limbs. Most of the corpses are hung up there by multiple branches going right through them. Artist Robert Gill did a terrific job on this. No two bodies are hanging in the same manner. It's a chilling image that's presented without a single word of dialogue and really sets the level of severity of the comic. I mean, it's called Book of Death for a reason, right?
There's another terrifying scene towards the end of the issue that will not sit well for anyone afraid of scorpions. It's the kind of situation where you suddenly feel like they're crawling all over you. So creepy.
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We get a peek at the Geomancer's book, which provides a glimpse into the future or at least a possible one. It presents an interesting version of the Valiant Universe to come, with a very ominous tone. Things look very bleak in this future, with many lives lost and natural disasters destroying parts of the world. The phrase “The Earth was soaked in blood” is used, which is never a good thing...unless you're a vampire maybe.
Book of Death is rife with possibilities. It's an event book that carries the gravitas that most tout but rarely deliver. You get the sense that the status quo is about to change in a way that actually matters. This isn't a situation where a character will get a new costume for a little while and then everything will go back to normal. It's going to be tough to come back from some of this, and things are going to get a lot bloodier before it's through.