Wednesday, July 20, 2016

The Valiant

I have not read a comic book from Valiant since the 1990s. And to be honest I don't think I can tell you much about the ones I did read, other than I remember Bob Layton artwork and Magnus the Robot Fighter. Well, the company is up for pretty much every Harvey Award category this year, a circumstance that some feel is suspicious given their market share size, and this collection of comics was available to borrow from Comixology Unlimited, so I figured why not? Also contributing to my decision was that it was written by Jeff Lemire and Matt Kindt, two prolific and well-respected comics creators whose works I have loved.

So, how was it, you ask? I loved it, and I am seriously thinking about following the adventures of some of the major players in this limited series. But I am getting ahead of myself. This collection contains four issues of the series meant to introduce (or reintroduce in my case) readers to the Valiant Universe. It has excellent and brief background on the major players, and although it is technically a crossover, it smartly focuses on a select few. The main plot deals with an ages old character named the Eternal Warrior in his quest to defend the Geomancer, a mystic strongly linked with the Earth, from being murdered by The Immortal Enemy. The rub is that this circumstance has happened three times before, and each time the Warrior has failed and the Earth plunged into a dark age. The intro to the book shows their first encounter/battle.

The difference this time is that there are government agencies, not to mention a good number of super-powered beings, that can assist the Eternal Warrior. Still the Enemy can use their greatest fears against them all, which makes the central character on the cover, Bloodshot, so important. He is an ex-agent enhanced by nanite technology whose memories have been wiped. He is a killing machine with a healing factor and no fear to exploit, and he is the last line of defense for the Geomancer. I won't spoil things any further, but I will say that I was quickly captivated by the story and artwork. As you can see from the preview, this book melds superhero art and narratives with legends and myths to excellent effect.

Lemire and Kindt wrote the story here, and Paolo Rivera provided the artwork. Lemire became known for his beautifully spare and brutal Essex County Trilogy as well as work on multiple superhero titles, and his original works The Underwater Welder and Trillium. Kindt also has created numerous graphic novels, including Super Spy, Red Handed, and Revolver, worked on his own series Mind MGMT and Dept H, as well as having written a good number of titles at Marvel and DC Comics. Rivera is a well established comics artist who has mostly done work for Marvel Comics. His line work and storytelling are exceptional. Lemire and Kindt speak about their work on The Valiant in this interview.

All of the reviews I have read about this collection have been glowing. David Harper described it as "one of the better superhero comics in recent years," adding that it was "certainly a comic worth reading for readers both new and old." Publishers Weekly called it "a classic adventure story that hits all the right notes." Jeff Lake praised it as "a fantastic read."

The Valiant was published by Valiant Entertainment, and they have more info about the book here. There is a preview available here from Comic Vine, where I copped the three pages above.

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