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The blockbuster Valiant event of 2015 starts here as New York Times best-selling writer Robert Venditti (X-O MANOWAR) joins superstar-in-the-making Robert Gill (ARMOR HUNTERS: HARBINGER) and visionary artist Doug Braithwaite (ARMOR HUNTERS) to begin a thousand-year journey into the future of the Valiant Universe…and rain, fire, blood and war on the heroes of today.

27th October 2015 - Reviewer: James Bridcut

Writer: Robert Venditti  

Art: Doug Braithwaite & Robert Gill

Issue #4 Published: 28th October 2015

Publisher: Valiant

Price: £2.80 ($3.99)

Book of Death - Issue 1-4 Review

The depth and quality present in the likes of Ninjak, Imperium & X-O Manowar etc bestows on Valiant Comics a confidence to attempt a cross publication tie-in that is normally only associated with the ‘big-hitters’ of the comic book world.

 

While this is Valiant's first foray into multiple IP, cross-over, territory it is easy to be cynical when these 'special event' comic series happen on a seemingly constant basis. However, with this being the first of its kind from this publisher, leniency and curiosity will probably outshine any residual cynicism people may have for these types of runs.

The first issue does a great job of introducing the various main players and serves as a great jumping off point for anyone new to Valiant’s stable.  The main narrative is concerned with the Geomancers, a lineage of men and women that are chosen to protect the Earth. The comic follows the present Geomancer and her attempts to decipher the eponymous ‘Book of Death’ – an ancient document that prophesises the end of the Earth at the hands of a fellow Geomancer.  With many of Earths heroes searching for the young Geomancer, believing she is responsible for the impending apocalypse, she turns to the Eternal Warrior for protection and guidance.

 

While marketed as a ‘cross-over’ event, the Geomancers are the definite focal point of ‘Book of Death’, while the remainder of the book serves as an introduction to Valiant’s other ‘super-heroes’.  The additional IP are very much supporting characters and unfortunately play very little part in the resolution of the narrative. The story, albeit entertaining, does not hugely benefit from the likes of Ninjak and company being present. The story is wrapped up nicely in the final issue and any lasting effects on the wider Valiant universe are restricted to several characters as the creators refreshingly resist the urge to press the ‘reset’ button. Therefore depending on which side of the comic divide you sit you will either see this as a good or bad thing; a disposable and inconsequential, 4 comic run which criminally underuses some excellent characters or, a short punchy story, that exposes readers to Valiant’s strongest IP without the need of any prior reading that ultimately doesn’t result in a cynical universe reboot or overhaul?

 

The question many readers will leave with is whether the story implies a potential inevitable fate for Earth and its heroes (similar to the seemingly endless Terminator cinematic franchise) or whether the prophesised threat is quelled for good? Something Valiant will no doubt allude to over the proceeding months (and years).

The art, like many of the books presently part of Valiant’s stable is beautiful, colourful and highly detailed. Doug Braithwaite’s panels wonderfully depict a bleak post-apocalyptic future that may or may not come to pass. The varied colour palette created a nice contrast between the nightmarish dark hues of a post-apocalyptic future Earth and the distinctly livelier present whether it is light pastel colours of the desert environments or the vibrant red’s associated with the books main antagonist. The detail and quality of the panels results in a book that is not only great to look at but also easy to follow.

 

Summary

This beats the recent DC 'event' series (Convergence) hands down and is refreshingly short alternative to Marvel's ubiquitous and enormous 'Secret Wars'. While it’s a shame that the supporting cast are underused and perhaps the consistent quality of Valliant’s regular publications may not necessarily shine through, the material present still solidifies Variant as one of the great independent comic publishers

 

 

Story – 6.9

Art – 8.5

Overall – 7.7

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