With its second issue, Legends of the Geomancer continues to be an entertaining series, but fails to gain must-read status thanks to a bland cast of characters and a story with a general lack of intensity. Indeed, by naming the lead female Anni and the lead male Padda, writer Fred Van Lente has made it blindingly obvious who these characters are to every reader with a general knowledge of the Valiant Universe. As a result of this background knowledge of the significance these characters have, there is little excitement that comes with seeing them in peril as there is not a shred of doubt that they’ll get through it in the end. While this guarantee of safety is something that could also be attached to practically every major super-hero comic-book being published today, it’s a particularly glaring problem in Legends of the Geomancer as the characters alone simply aren’t interesting enough to hold your attention for long. Anni is tough, Padda is honourable, and new character Snake is seemingly little more than a less interesting version of Tyrion Lannister. That’s about all the characterisation we’ve had in this series thus far, meaning our investment in these characters is minimal and the budding romance between Anni and Padda feels both forced and rushed; the latter of which I can understand given that Van Lente has only been given a four issue mini-series to explore this story. That’s not to say this series has nothing going for it whatsoever; the story – while definitely flawed – does have entertaining moments, with a last page twist in this issue proving to be particularly memorable. Additionally, judging from the cover to the next issue (shown at the end of this one), issue three of this series will likely see events flash forward to the present day, a change-up that could inject some new life into this book before it wraps up. However, as we all learnt from the first issue of this series, covers to comic-books can be very deceiving so it would be unwise to put all our eggs in that basket.
The artwork in this book continues to be its strongest element, with Juan José Ryp and Jordie Bellaire proving to be something of a dream team. The vast landscape shots of Anni’s desolate environment are quite breathtaking, while the fight sequence that opens the book is brutal, and gives us a great sense of the world that these characters live in. If one thing comes out of the wake of this book, I would hope it to be the placement of Ryp and Bellaire on a more high-profile book as their work deserves far greater exposure.
Frankly, given that Valiant are using this book as an incentive for retailers to order the main Book of Death series, I had hoped for something a little more impressive. Instead what we have is a solid mini-series that certainly has moments of greatness, but is ultimately bogged down by boring characters and a somewhat predictable storyline. While this series hasn’t tainted the Geomancer in the same way that the Star Wars prequels arguably ruined the character of Darth Vader, it’s questionable just how much memorable material it’s adding to the character’s mythos and indeed whether this series needed to be made at all.