Review: Book of Death - Legends of the Geomancer #1

As Valiant’s excellent new event series Book of Death debuts, so too does it’s first tie-in – and as is the case with many tie-ins, it has very little, if anything at all, to do with the main story. Indeed, if you were thinking of picking up Legends of the Geomancer to ensure you get the full story behind this latest event, then rest assured that you really don’t need to. This book seems to be telling a story that is relatively self-contained, with the inclusion of ‘Book of Death’ in the title presumably there only to increase interest. With that said, this is a pretty solid comic-book and although you don’t need to read it, if you’re a Valiant fan with room on your pull list you might want to give it a try anyway. Full disclaimer: the cover to this comic book is very misleading. It features prominently both the late former geomancer Kay McHenry, and the iconic Valiant hero the Eternal Warrior – neither make an appearance here. Instead, this book is all about the story of the first ever geomancer, Anni, who at the beginning of this issue is a prisoner being led by her tribe to her execution. Her geomancer powers have led to her being branded a witch, and this opening issue shows her desperate attempts to save herself. The issue sets things up well, giving us a rough idea of the hierarchy of the tribe, their beliefs, and a big hint as to what Anni will go on to do. Still though, I’d be lying if I said I was super-pumped for the next issue.

BOD-GEOMANCER_001_COVER-SAUVAGEDon’t get me wrong, this opening was entertaining and leaves Anni in an interesting position going forward. But, it just didn’t quite grab me in a way that other Valiant debuts have in the past. This I put down to the characters lacking much personality; aside from Anni herself who shows some promise, every other character in this book can only really be described as “generic tribesmen.” This is particularly surprising as writer Fred Van Lente has crafted many fantastic characters in his previous work. Additionally, while entertaining, it could be argued that at this point this story is a little basic and it’s unclear where it will go for the remaining three issues.

Still though, this doesn’t justify dismissing the issue completely as there is fun to be had here. But, it is hard to get fully invested in a story when its characters are for the most part quite bland. Still, while the characters leave a lot to be desired, there’s no denying that they are beautifully illustrated by Juan Jose Ryp. Indeed, the art in this book really brings this ancient world to life, with many panels and pages looking truly stunning. The colours by superstar colorist Jordie Bellaire play an integral role in this, and help to generate the desolate environment Anni and her tribe journey through.

Legends of the Geomancer #1 is a solid debut for this new mini-series, but sadly is far from a must-buy. The main character of Anni is interesting, and I look forward to seeing if she has any connection with the modern-day Valiant Universe. However, the other characters at this point are very bland, and the story itself doesn’t quite hook you in enough to warrant much excitement for issue two. Those only interested in the series due to it sharing a title with Valiant’s blockbuster 2015 event need not apply, as the connection to the main storyline is almost non-existent in this issue. Meanwhile, those enticed by the book’s cover should be warned that not one of the three characters featured on it appear in this issue. Ultimately, I’d say this issue is only for devoted Valiant fans, or those with a specific interest in the origins of the Geomancer. If you identify as either of those, then this issue may well be one to watch.

Score: 3/5

Book of Death - Legends of the Geomancer #1 Writer: Fred Van Lente Artist: Juan Jose Ryp Colorist: Jordie Bellaire Publisher: Valiant Comics Price: $3.99 Release Date: 7/15/15 Format: Mini-Series; Print/Digital