This book has been teased, previewed and built up for a while now. The real kicker is that you can’t buy this issue yet. I know it stinks, but we here at Comic Bastards wanted to make sure we all took a crack at it to give you as many opinions about the first issue as possible. First a blurb about the issue from Valiant.
Valiant Entertainment is proud to announce THE VALIANT – a new prestige format four-issue limited series beginning in December from New York Times best-selling writers Jeff Lemire (Green Arrow, Animal Man) and Matt Kindt (RAI, UNITY, Mind MGMT), and featuring interior artwork and covers by Eisner Award-winning artist Paolo Rivera(Daredevil)!
The Valiant #1 is the beginning of a series that will no doubt find a novel way of offering commentary on man's eternal struggle of reaching true harmony with his environment.
Or maybe just shake up the Valiant comics’ universe. Whatever. BLOODSHOT IS SUPER FUCKING COOL.
Lemire's first issues often have a way of grabbing me. Animal Man #1 had me hook, line, and sinker, and Trillium #1 is one of my favorite #1's ever. Though I don't feel the same grab as I did with those, comparisons like this are really stupid: Matt Kindt is co-writing, so it's not as if this is a solo Lemire, and this is my first foray into anything Kindt has done. Additionally, a book with this much going on needs more than one issue to get you locked in. To be fair, if you follow the Valiant universe at all, you’re probably locked in from the start with this kind of character lineup.
I vote that you check it out, even as a newbie to Valiant comics, in no small part because of the father-and-son Rivera team putting together some pretty fantastic monsters, while displaying a real knack for having the emotion of a scene come through in the illustrations.
I’ve been looking forward to The Valiant #1 for a while now, because Valiant is such a phenomenal publisher that seems to consistently produce great titles. Add Jeff Lemire, Matt Kindt and Paolo Rivera into the mix – three creators who seem to be at the top of their game right now – and there is no question over whether or not I’ll be following this series. And to the surprise of no one, The Valiant #1 is a fantastic first issue. Lemire and Kindt (or Kemire for ease) had an ambitious story on their hands here. This book tells of a battle “ten millennia in the making,” and so they had the tough job of making the stakes feel appropriately high, whilst juggling some of Valiant’s most popular characters at the same time.
Somehow they manage it, and craft one of the most entertaining first issues I’ve read in a while. Although (as I mentioned above) this story involves multiple Valiant characters, the Eternal Warrior and his relationship with the Geomancer is very much at the heart of the tale. As much as I love Valiant, Eternal Warrior is one of the only books in their relaunched universe that I didn’t read, and so my knowledge of his life is a little lacking. Yet in the space of just 23 pages Kemire has made me care deeply for this character, and his ongoing struggle with this book’s antagonist. It’s really impressive how much emotion this character portrays on the page, and a great show of the talent of not only Kemire but also Paolo Rivera whose art brings this issue to life. In just a few short scenes this team has not only got the reader fully on-side with their protagonist, but has also set up the so-called “Immortal Enemy” as an intimidating threat.
And when talking about the Immortal Enemy I have to talk more about the art of Paolo Rivera. I always enjoy Rivera’s art but this is some of the best stuff I’ve seen from him yet. He brings the many creepy looks of the Immortal Enemy to the page in a way that looks cinematic and terrifying. Each of the Enemy’s incarnations look great in their own way, and the hideous face-opening move they all share is enough to secure this as one of the best villain designs I’ve seen in a comic this year. I haven’t given this book full marks because as much as I love how this villain looks, he lacks character development at this point in the series, and I think he needs a little before I can declare him iconic. Meanwhile as much as I felt for Gilad (the Eternal Warrior) in this issue, I don’t feel totally on board with the current Geomancer he’s protecting - Kay. I felt like Kemire really tried to make her likeable, but in the end she still came off as a little dull. However I am optimistic that the pair can correct this in the next issue, and these small complaints don’t stop The Valiant from being a fantastic book that is well worth picking up. I wish Marvel and DC did crossovers this well.
Valiant has been talking a big game about the fact that their newest crossover book, The Valiant, is not only fun for longtime fans, but a good jumping-on point for new readers. As a person who has never read a Valiant comic (but had a booster pack of Valiant trading cards back in the day—Bloodshot’s doing, I’m sure), I’m here to see if their game lives up to the hype.
I’m also here to say that it certainly does live up to the hype. I won’t pretend this issue didn’t send me to Wikipedia a few times to flesh out character relationships or to get a little bit more familiar with the Valiant universe, but that was all after the fact. The comic itself tells a very clear story—somewhat simple, but very concise, with a strong flow to it. We know what Geomancers mean, and what happens to them when they hang out with the Eternal Warrior; we know what Bloodshot does; we know Armstrong has been drinking like a fish for 5000 years (living the dream). There are some clunky exposition bits, but they’re a panel, and then they’re gone. They don’t interfere with Bloodshoot doing rad shit, or the Eternal Warrior fighting every monster you’ve ever heard of through time. Kindt and Lemire haven’t quite put their authorial stamp on the series, but they’re top-notch writers, and they wrote a tight script.
Let’s talk about Paolo Rivera. Holy literal jesus, this guy is great. With a central conflict of The Eternal Warrior versus The Immortal Enemy, you’ve gotta have a killer artist to elevate it past a monster-of-the-week status, and Rivera is the artist for the job. His Immortal Enemy is a truly horrifying thing to behold, but it doesn’t cross the line over into Avatar Press-style guts’n glory, but feels firmly rooted in this world Valiant has created.
I’m looking forward to buying my first Valiant title with The Valiant.
What this first issue does incredibly well is make the Valiant Universe feel connected. In a way it’s like an organism and this series is showing us how it functions. It is a bit Unity feeling, but what works about it is that it’s doing what Unity did already. If Unity hadn’t undergone a big change this past week then this series would be a bit redundant, but because of that it’s acting almost like an extension.
The opening is very strong as we learn how Gilad received his scars and it’s pretty jacked up. No wonder when a Geomancer dies he gets really pissed off. The opening and then the callback at the end where fantastic and have me very excited for this coming series.
The writing tone is very different from a typical Matt Kindt book and also a typical Jeff Lemire title as well, but you can see glimpses of both writers. It’s actually really cool and it makes this issue different from any other collaboratively written comic that I’ve read.
The bottom line is that something big and awesome is coming to the Valiant Universe and this series is ushering it in. I’m looking forward to buying this when it hits the stands and this early read has only made me want more.
Writers: Jeff Lemire, Matt Kindt Artist: Paolo Rivera Publisher: Valiant Comics Price: $3.99 Release Date: 12/10/14 Format: Print/Digital