"The Valiant #1" Comic Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by Valliant Entertainment
Written by Jeff Lemire and Matt Kindt
Illustrated by Paolo Rivera
2014, 32 Pages, $3.99
Comic released on December 10th, 2014
Event books can be a real thorn in the side of comic book fans. They can branch out into a bunch of tie-in issues, forcing you to buy needless one-shots or books you don't regularly read in a fruitless effort to increase sales, all the while claiming that you only need to read the main title to get the full story, which we all know is BS. The Valiant is on the complete opposite side of the spectrum. This is a four-issue self-contained mini-series. You don't need to know the full backstory of the characters involved. You can jump right in and enjoy.
The comic picks up with the Eternal Warrior, a man who has protected the planet for over 10,000 years, guided by the Geomancers; those that speak for the Earth. Unfortunately for him, the terrifying beast known simply as the Immortal Enemy has a knack for killing the Geomancer despite the Eternal Warrior's efforts. A dark age for humanity begins each time that the Warrior fails. It looks like the Immortal Enemy is coming again, but this time the Warrior has some backup.
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Valiant Entertainment has been building an impressive universe over the past few years. This book is like the culmination of all that. It mixes the likes of Bloodshot, the Eternal Warrior, Archer & Armstrong, and X-O Manowar, but it doesn't require you to read through all of the previous issues of each book to get an understanding of what's going on. Each character has a very organic introduction to the story, giving you an idea of who they are and what they can do. There's also a small bio (a couple sentences, tops) on everyone in the back of the book. This the ideal setup for an event comic. There's plenty to enjoy for long time fans and it's a perfect jumping on point for new readers.
There's an immediate sense of scale to The Valiant. The first chunk of the issue outlines the Eternal Warrior's failures. He keeps coming against this massive enemy only to get knocked back each time, forced to watch helplessly as that generation's Geomancer is brutally murdered. The Immortal Enemy marks him with a deep slash across the face every time this happens, so when we get to the present day, it looks like the guy went toe-to-toe with Wolverine. He carries the weight of those deaths on his shoulders. This is the burden he bears.
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Paolo Rivera's design for the Immortal Enemy is downright terrifying. It changes with the times, evolving into different forms, but the first is so damn scary. It's like a cross between a giant bat and something out of Neon Genesis Evangelion. It's massive and gangly with a hideous deformed skull for a face. You have to admire the courage of the Eternal Warrior for going up against this thing alone.
The Valiant is an event comic done right. It quickly introduces all of the key players and clearly explains what's at stake. There is a dark force coming for these characters and things will get worse before they get better, but you can be damn sure that there's going to be one helluva fight when all is said and done.