The Valiant # 1
Illustrated by: Paolo Rivera
Published by: Valiant Entertainment
Reviewed by: Kristian Horn
I’ve been pretty behind on my Valiant reading as of late. As much as I love the Valiant stable of books it’s been pretty tough keep current on all the books. As of this writing I’m in the middle of reading the fourth volume of Bloodshot (Bloodshot and the H.A.R.D. Corps) and I’m pretty much hovering around volume three or four of most of the other books.
The reason I’m citing where I am in my Valiant reading cycle is because I want anyone reading this to have an idea of where I’m coming from as I do this review of The Valiant. Which is basically to say that I’m not current on the weekly books. I have no real idea of what’s been happening or what’s going on in the present Valiant Universe but I do have a pretty good knowledge of the foundation of that universe. All that being said, despite my lack of knowledge of current events at Valiant, I had no trouble understanding or following what was happening in this first issue of The Valiant. In a marketplace that feeds off of confusing crossover books it’s refreshing to be able to pick up a comic and be able to connect the dots without a scorecard. Making their comics comprehensible and entertaining to new or out of date readers is something that I’ve noticed Valiant exceeds at. As a Part-Time Fanboy I’m incredibly thankful for Valiant making their books as accessible as they are. The Valiant is such a straightforward and entertaining read that I believe that you could even go in cold, not knowing anything about any of the characters, and still find it an engaging read.
So that’s the first feather in The Valiant’s cap…that it’s solid enough to stand on its own as a story. The other thing that makes The Valiant such a good read is that it’s, well, it’s just a damn good comic book. From the opening pages writers Jeff Lemire and Matt Kindt offer up a compelling story of resolve and frustration against an unbeatable foe that is incredibly captivating. This beginning chapter details the struggle between the man known in the Valiant Universe as The Eternal Warrior and a creepily designed foe named The Immortal Enemy. Through the ages The Eternal Warrior has been charged with defending a series of beings known as the Geomancers from the evil of The Immortal Enemy. Through the ages the Enemy has stymied his heroic counterpart, slaying each Geomancer it comes for. Now, in this modern era of heroes with abilities beyond any that the Warrior or the Enemy have experienced before, the frustrated protagonist seeks the aid of the Valiant comics stable of heroes so he can defend the current Geomancer and destroy his Immortal foe for all time.
Lemire and Kindt offer up a somewhat straightforward plot that is filled with tragedy and action that pulls you in from the beginning. Every page of Paolo Rivera’s art is filled with dark mood and kinetic energy. This is a comic that reminded me of what team-up books used to be like when I was growing up. You’d have a terrific set-up of the characters, introduce a foe that was so powerful that he’d bring all of the heroes together, bits of action spread throughout and then you were off to the races. It seems to me, based on just having read The Harbinger Wars, the first issue of Unity and now this book, that Valiant is the only company that hasn’t forgotten how to do a crossover book that doesn’t just confuse the hell out of the readership. The Valiant is a first issue that is a gripping tale from the first page to the last and it succeeds so well because it keeps things simple. It tells you just enough about everything and everybody in the book and then begins to spin a story that any comic reader can grab onto and enjoy. That’s not to say that the comic isn’t without its complexities. For readers of the Valiant books there are plenty of small details to pick up on but The Valiant succeeds because it serves up such a universally recognizable story and tells it in such a way that it’s both refreshing and enthralling.
Just about every time I pick up a new Valiant trade or comic I come away somewhat impressed. Valiant just seems to know what kind of comics entertain the hell out of me. I’m not sure what kind of magic formula they’ve cracked but when it comes to superhero and adventure books they continue to get me hooked. Guess this just means I’ll have to attempt to get a bit more current in my Valiant trade paperback reading to I can attempt to catch up with what’s going on in The Valiant. Not that I need to…The Valiant is a comic that entertains on its own and doesn’t need any other books to lean on when it comes to telling its story. It’s that good.