Publisher: Valiant Entertainment
Writers: Matt Kindt, Jeff Lemire
Artists: Paolo Rivera, Joe Rivera
Released: 10th December, 2014
Every time I grab a copy of Valiant’s stuff, I’m always annoyed that I’m not as familiar with their work as I ought to be. As you read it – particularly these gorgeously interconnected cross-over events that seem to be their bread and butter – you can almost smell the love that’s being put into crafting these worlds, these characters. And the fact that it so coherent charts so many periods of history in such detail is just the icing on the cake.
For this round, we’re treated to a fairly expansive recounting of the history of Gilad the Eternal Warrior, one of three brothers blessed/cursed with immortality and super-human abilities thanks to a ‘denser molecular structure’ (don’t think about that too much); with this one in particular tasked with protecting the various Geomancers – people chosen by Earth itself to be imbued with their own super-powers, and protect the hell out of it – of history. Only here, we bear witness to the three times that he failed in this task. It’s all setting up a massive cross-over event that features the likes of Archer and Armstrong, Bloodshot and X-O Manowar, battling Gilad’s nemesis, the Immortal Enemy, who resurfaces to bring what it perceives as balance to the world, albeit in a rather gory fashion.
Kindt and Lemire conspire to bring a certain poetry to the proceedings – the narration imbuing the story with a sombre, epic tone that’s wonderfully appropriate. That it doesn’t feel at odds with the marginally more whimsical bent of the rest of dialogue as we progress through to the modern age, whilst at the same time ensuring that each character retains a unique voice, is something of an achievement, given the sheer scope of story.
But it’s the art from the Riveras that is the book’s massive selling point; it’s absolutely terrific – particularly in the cold opener, shifting between no less than three historic locales with an effortless ease, and never losing detail or quality as it charts the tale of Gilad in his efforts to defend the Geomancers of various time-periods. It’s all gorgeous, not just in the scale of the vision, but also in the little details – of particular note is a fantastic, 9-panel page that is literally just a character monologuing; but it showcases Paolo’s absolute mastery of facial expression, making what would otherwise be a fairly hefty bit of expositional dialogue absolutely zip by.
Overall, it’s a pretty great opening issue to the cross-over – the writing’s sharp, the art is incredible, and as an introduction to Valiant’s pantheon of off-piste super-folk, whilst it does lack a few details on some of the supporting players, it’s still a great jumping-on point for their perpetually underrated stories.
The Writer of this piece was: Ross Sweeney
Ross tweets from @Rostopher24