Review – Green Valley #4 (Image Comics)

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Publisher: Image Comics (Skybound imprint)
Writer: Max Landis
Artwork: Giuseppe Camuncoli (pencils), Cliff Rathburn (inks), Jean-Francois Beaulieu (colours)
Release Date: 11th January 2017

The Knights of Kelodia are no strangers to death.  But after watching one of their own being brutally murdered by an “evil wizard” in the previous issue, the three remaining Knights are forced to make some difficult decisions here about how just how to proceed against this new, unexpected threat.

In the first three issues of this series, writer Max Landis has done a stellar job of forming a strong bond between the reader and the Knights.  We’ve seen them laugh, watched them fight and felt them suffer, and from the closing pages of the very first issue we’ve been right there alongside them every step of the way.  But now, as they’re forced to decide how best to deal with “evil wizard” Cyril and the ominous threat of dragons in the woods, the bond between these brothers-in-arms seems to be more fragile than ever, especially following the unceremonious death of Indrid last time out.

Once again, the dialogue is sharp and focused, with few words being wasted during the interactions between the knights.  Gulliver in particular is becoming more and more intriguing, with his anxiety about all the tall tales he has spun about killing dragons in the past threatening to swallow him up as the prospect of meeting a real dragon looms large.  While the true nature of the “Dragons” can probably be guessed from the context of the story, the execution of their reveal – particularly from artists Giuseppe Camuncoli and Cliff Rathburn – is a thing of beauty.

In fact, this is a pretty damn beautiful comic full stop, with Camuncoli, Rathburn and colourist Jean-Francois Beaulieu combining once again to deliver a bright, colourful fantasy world with some wonderfully designed characters.  In a comic based so much on interactions and emotions, it also definitely helps that the team have such a terrific knack for facial expressions, running the whole gamut from quiet grief to incandescent rage within the confines of these pages.  Oh, and as I mentioned above, they damn sure knows how to draw “dragons”.

If Landis simply wanted to tell a rich, compelling fantasy tale here, he clearly could.  However, the further we progress through this story, the more it becomes apparent that he has something truly special up his sleeve, subverting our expectations time and time again and creating a genuine sense of unpredictability that few comics can emulate.

As strong as the story undoubtedly is though, it wouldn’t work nearly as well without the fantastic characterisation of the Knights themselves, and in that respect Landis deserves the ultimate credit for creating such intriguing and relatable characters.  A fantastic series packed with twists, turns and razor-sharp dialogue, Green Valley comes highly, highly recommended.

Rating: 4.5/5.

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ceejThe writer of this piece was: Craig Neilson-Adams (aka Ceej)
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