Review – Book of Death #1 (of 4) (Valiant)

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Click to enlarge

Publisher: Valiant Entertainment
Writer: Robert Vendetti
Artists: Robert Gill, Doug Braithwaite, David Baron, Brian Reber
Released: 15th July 2015

Ah, good ol’ Valiant crossovers – I’ve never been disappointed by them, and this latest one doesn’t break that trend.

We’ll get the negative criticism out the way fast – all I can really conjure up is that compared with previous crossovers Valiant have put out, this one is perhaps the least new-person-friendly they’ve produced. They’ve been building up to this particular story for a while now, and if you’re unfamiliar with this universe’s mythology – particularly everything surrounding the Geomancer and the Eternal Warrior – this issue will batter you to death with the unfamiliar notions its presenting. The nature of the story means that it can’t not do that, but it’ll unfortunately mean alienating the noobs out there. Not that there should be that many of you left, given that we’ve repeatedly been telling you to dive aboard for, what? A year now? Yeesh.

The rest of the book is absolutely up to Valiant’s stellar precedent – the art in particular is gorgeously clean. Gill and Braithwaite – two absolute powerhouses of the Valiant stable – gel incredibly well here, imbuing the book with a not-too-gritty realism that emphasises the story’s grounded-yet-fantastical nature. Most satisfying is a particularly detailed two-page spread towards the end of the issue showing a mass scorpion attack on a wee wooden shack. Press your nose up against it – or, y’know, zoom in if you’re reading it digitally – you won’t be disappointed.

Vendetti – despite not catering to the noob – still does great work juggling the large cast of characters. That he manages to make them all sound distinct without ever feeling forced is massively impressive, and though the majority of the supporting cast don’t feature for more than two or three pages, they all make their mark immediately. The story is fascinating, drawing on the more fun and engaging aspects of the mythology to create a convincing threat, though it of course remains to be seen as to whether it’ll pay off.

Overall, Book of Death looks set to be another in a long line of terrifically fun crossovers from Valiant. Exceptional craftsmanship in all aspects give it a slick, refined feel as you progress through the pages, and the conflict looks set to escalate rather epically. We’ve said it many times before – we’ll say it again, dammit. You should be reading more Valiant.

Rating: 4/5.

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RSavThe Writer of this piece was: Ross Sweeney
Ross tweets from @Rostopher24

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