Wednesday, 10 December 2014

The Valiant #1 Review (Jeff Lemire, Paolo Rivera)

The Valiant 1 Cover Jeff Lemire Paolo Rivera

Gilad Anni-Padda is the Eternal Warrior, Earth’s immortal champion, who fights whoever for whatever reason the Earth desires in its inscrutable master plan of guiding the human race. Gilad is informed of his orders via a Geomancer who can communicate with the Earth – except they are not immortal and frequently re-spawn through new human vessels. Why frequently? Because something Gilad imaginatively calls the Immortal Enemy (who is immortal and an enemy) has been killing Geomancers. And now, in the 21st century, Gilad’s new Geomancer is the latest target.

The Valiant #1, kicking off Valiant’s latest event comic, is a bit of a mess. It tries to do too much in this opening issue. The first scenes of Gilad through the ages, seeing the various Geomancers he worked with being killed by this monster, were fine. You do wonder though why the Geomancers aren’t immortal like Gilad so they wouldn’t be killed so easily. But I suppose it’s interesting to see how Gilad got those scars on his face.

Here on out is where things begin to fall apart as writers Jeff Lemire and Matt Kindt write lengthy bursts of exposition from the new character of Kay McHenry, Gilad’s new Geomancer and great-grand-daughter of Buck McHenry, the Geomancer we met in the first Eternal Warrior volume, and Bloodshot. First up is Kay who tells us her life story which sounds so much like writing it’s embarrassing. It’s not at all how normal people speak and is utterly forced and unconvincing.

Then – for no real reason that I can see besides the fact that Valiant insist upon this character in all of their big titles – Bloodshot appears in the comic, on some island jungle with some utterly painful and obvious exposition. Here’s a taste:

Bloodshot: “Tell me again why I’m in the middle of the jungle?”
Some Guy on Bloodshot’s Mic: “Because those incredible nanites in your blood allow you to take a beating - or a bullet - like no other MI-6 agent.”
Bloodshot: “Yeah I know why I’m here. But why am I here”

There follows several paragraphs of exposition to catch the reader up on Bloodshot’s recent past. Ouch! This artless method of writing dialogue seems to be a staple of Lemire’s when it comes to his superhero work for hire comics. I noticed this shoddy type of writing in his New 52 Green Arrow run and he’s doing it again here. I mean, why bother with the pretence that those characters are having a real conversation – why not just throw up a summary page instead?

Paulo Rivera’s artwork is as good as it usually is. I wouldn’t say I enjoyed it as much as I have in other titles but it looks very clean and well put-together. The one aspect of it where I felt Rivera dropped the ball was his depiction of the Immortal Enemy. For some reason – probably because he’s meant to be “scary” – the Immortal Enemy’s face splits open and peels back to reveal a bare skull which speaks. What a stupid design! It’s like they’re trying hard to be horrific and it comes off instead as desperate and dumb.

After reading this first issue, it’s unclear why this series is called “The Valiant”. Is it a reference to Gilad, or any of the characters, for being valiant? If so, what a mundane reason for the title. But from what story I can gather from this first issue, it’s just another Eternal Warrior book that’ll have cameos from others from the Valiant universe shoe-horned in.

The Valiant #1 is a very poorly written first issue with some of the clunkiest dialogue you’ll ever read in modern comics, though it has strong artwork throughout. For all the hype Valiant has given it, the story is a massive let-down that fails to generate the interest or excitement an event title should ideally create with its first issue. Underwhelming stuff from a relatively big name creative team. 

No comments:

Post a Comment