Friday, 10 April 2015

The Valiant Review (Jeff Lemire, Paolo Rivera)


Gilad the Eternal Warrior is tasked with protecting Geomancers - mystics who “speak for the Earth” and “guide humanity to new heights” (whatever that means). But each time a Geomancer appears, so does The Immortal Enemy whose purpose is to kill the Geomancer and plunge humanity into a perpetual dark age - Gilad may be eternal but the Geomancers aren’t! Not great at his job then…

It’s present day and a new Geomancer appears - Kay McHenry - and this time Gilad is determined not to lose this one. Enlisting the help of every character in the Valiant Universe, they go to war against The Immortal Enemy.

The Valiant is the latest book that shows the company’s gradual decline into the commercial bog currently occupied by Marvel and DC where crapola superhero crossovers and event books are the order of every day. A couple years ago I would’ve said Valiant were producing some of the best comics in the industry but today they’re determined to publish superficial superhero rubbish like the Big 2.

The premise is underwritten. How does killing a Geomancer plunge the world into a dark age exactly? And why is there an Immortal Enemy - what does it get out of making sure humanity doesn’t advance as much? And, because the Eternal Warrior has failed repeatedly, why doesn’t the Earth replace him and/or get more to match the threat?

When Jeff Lemire teams up with Matt Kindt, horrible dialogue is a given. Take Bloodshot’s introduction - how’s this for terrible expositional setup:

Bloodshot (in the jungle fighting robot guards): “Tell me again why I’m in the middle of the jungle, Neville?”

Ugh. As if that’s something anyone would say in the middle of battle. What, he forgot? No, it’s there for the reader’s benefit so blocks of exposition can be thrown in. And the response is even more hideous:

Neville: “These mercenaries work for Project Rising Spirit… your old puppet masters. You know, the same lovelies who robbed your memories and exploited you to kill for them all those years.”

Because Bloodshot forgot who his “old puppet masters” were and what they did to him? Come on, this is so clumsy. I realise this isn’t going to bother a lot of people but it rankles me a lot. It tells me the writers are hacking their way through an idiotic setup and removes any possibility there is of me getting sucked into the story.

There are too many awfully written scenes like that in this book. And how redundant is it to have a character say “Run!” when they’re already running away from the enemy that’s chasing them?

The Immortal Enemy’s face opens up to reveal a talking skull - why? Because horror and he’s a villain. And even though this is basically a Bloodshot book with an Eternal Warrior subplot, let’s chuck in all the Valiant characters to emphasise that this nonsense is Important. Yet it’s very underwhelming once they all assemble and show how ineffective they are when the chips are down.

About the only thing I really liked was Paolo Rivera’s artwork. He draws several awesome splash pages though his work throughout is very solid and the equal of his pages on Mark Waid’s Daredevil. As stupid as it is to have the Immortal Enemy’s face split open, Rivera sells the gruesomeness, and some of the fears that the Enemy manifests as are brilliantly rendered.

Bloodshot fans will want to read this because it’s basically a Bloodshot book though also something major happens to the character at the end. Other readers though looking for a fun read won’t find it here. This is bad action movie schlock through and through. The storyline is super generic – as plain a good vs evil story as you could imagine – executed poorly by Lemire and Kindt with little payoff and an extremely weak finale.

Valiant didn’t use to produce such forgettable fare but it seems the reboot has gone south in the last year or so. The Valiant continues the slide down.

The Valiant

2 comments:

  1. I've only read a few sample pages of the Valiant (DCBS sends those to everyone, I think). Seems like I'm not missing much.


    By the way, I just read your post about MPH and it was great. You seem to be a bit of an expert in Millar and Fegredo. Anyway, I also wrote about MPH in my blog (wich I encourage you to visit):

    www.artbyarion.blogspot.com

    Cheers.

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    1. Thanks man! Your blog's really good. Obviously we didn't see the same things in MPH but whatevs. I have read a lot of Millar though so I do know a bit about the guy (for my sins). And yeah you're definitely not missing much with The Valiant or with Valiant in general.

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