"Book of Death #4" Comic Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by Valiant Entertainment
Written by Robert Venditti
Illustrated by Robert Gill
2015, 32 Pages, $3.99
Comic released on October 28th, 2015
Gilad Anni-Padda is a man on a mission. He's lived for thousands of years with the sole purpose of protecting the Geomancer, but he's currently facing an enemy unlike any he's ever seen. The Book of the Geomancer predicts a dark future for the world and Gilad, the Eternal Warrior is the only one capable of preventing it from coming to pass. No pressure, dude.
Book of Death has a massive scale with some true consequences in store for the Valiant Universe. Unlike your average event book, it doesn't rely on stunts or long drawn out exposition. This is a personal story. The bulk of this issue is spent with Gilad, Tama (the Geomancer from the future), and their enemy, who stands revealed as Master Darque. Their battle will decide the fate of the entire world. It all comes down to this.
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Gilad realizes what he's up against. It's not just Darque he has to worry about. If you've made it this far into the series, you know that Darque has captured and is manipulating the other Geomancer (since Tama came from the future, there are two). Imagine someone with these necromantic abilities wielding the power of the very earth beneath your feet. It's a scary thought. Despite this, Gilad knows what he must do and charges head first into this battle, wielding his ax high.
There's a sense of closure between him and Tama before they enter the fray. This journey has been hard for both of them. Gilad has stood alone in his defense of the young girl, even fighting his teammates in Unity to protect her, as he knows what he must do and what's at stake. Meanwhile, Tama has struggled with her abilities, especially since her power is split between her and the other Geomancer. Now she's facing Darque and all his forces of evil.
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Darque is a downright terrifying enemy. He doesn't need a cadre of super villains backing him up, although a few animated skeletons are around to help out. He shows the lengths he's willing to go to grab this power that he's been lusting after for so long, and it's downright despicable. The scene just before Gilad and Tama show up is cringe worthy in its ruthlessness.
Artist Robert Gill did a tremendous job bringing Darque and his various evil minions to life. There's an inhuman darkness about Darque that is just creepy. I can't tell which is scarier: The aforementioned skeletons or the array of zombie-like demons that crawl out of the ground ready to rip Gilad to shreds. Their bodies are decaying and covered in an array of sores and welts. They don't have skin in the traditional sense. Instead they're enveloped in muscle and sinew, as if they've been flayed.
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What takes the cake is when Tama unleashes the true extent of her powers, showing what the earth is truly capable of. It starts small with a simple “plip” as a seedling pops out of the ground and quickly grows to horrifying lengths. If you thought the tree in Evil Dead II was creepy, you haven't seen anything yet. There's one panel in particular that stands out. It will make you flinch just looking at it. I'm sure when you see it, you'll know exactly which one I'm talking about.
Although Book of Death has been filled with an ominous terror throughout its run, this issue is packed with heart. It's an inspiration to see how far someone will go to do the right thing. It has similarities in tone and theme to Hellboy: The Storm and The Fury, which certainly puts it in good company. It's the kind of book that I wish more event comics strived to be. This is a self-contained, easily accessible story that holds deep, meaningful ramifications for the entire Valiant Universe that will take it into an entirely new phase. It hits like a punch to the gut and pulls at all the feels. This is a solid read and easily one of the best books of the year.
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