Review: Book of Death – Legends of the Geomancer #4

I hadn’t been very impressed with the previous issues of this miniseries, but with the fourth and final instalment things finally take a turn for the better. Indeed, everything Van Lente has laid out over the course of this book finally comes together in this issue and the result is surprisingly satisfying. Kicking off with a huge battle scene depicted in a beautiful double-page spread by Juan José Ryp and Jordie Bellaire, this instalment maintains a great sense of tension throughout. Set many decades since the events of issue three, this final instalment has a real sense of finality to it from the beginning and leads to a neatly tied up conclusion at the end. Padda, the former ally of Geomancer Anni, has been looking to end her life for many years and in this issue we see his final push to try and accomplish that goal. The transformation of Padda since we last saw him has been both drastic and gruesome, with the once noble warrior now a truly frightful villain. I do still feel that the character turned against Anni jarringly quickly – especially as there were hints of romance developing between the two which had to be quickly dropped – however the great execution of this issue makes that fact forgivable. Additionally, I feel it’s only fair to cut Van Lente some slack as the writer not only had just four issues to tell this story but also a reduced pagecount to that which is standard of a Valiant book.

Book of Death Legends of the Geomancer #4While it was predictable from the very first issue that Anni would eventually give birth to the brothers Gilad, Ivar and Aram given her name and the name of her initial love interest, the appearance of the Valiant icons in this issue do also bring a lot of fun to the book. Writer Fred Van Lente has experience with all three through his runs on Archer & Armstrong and Ivar, Timewalker, and it’s clear to see he has a good grasp on what makes these characters tick. This too goes a long way to making issue four the strongest instalment in this mini-series.

The artwork by Juan José Ryp and Jordie Bellaire has been consistently strong since this series began, and this issue is no exception. As has been the case from the beginning the artwork seems to really shine in the brutal fight scenes and action sequences, but remains strong in the more static scenes as well. I hope to see this art team reunited on another Valiant book in the near future, as their work here has been fantastic.

Much to my surprise this series has delivered a genuinely compelling finale with issue four, an instalment which brings this story full circle with a very satisfying conclusion indeed. While I’m not sure that I could recommend this series as a whole because I do feel it lagged at points, this issue is undeniably strong and so perhaps worth seeking out on its own if you’re interested in learning more about the origins of Valiant’s Geomancers.

Score: 4/5

Book of Death – Legends of the Geomancer #4 Writer: Fred Van Lente Artist: Juan José Ryp Colorist: Jordie Bellaire Publisher: Valiant Comics Price: $3.99 Release Date: 10/28/15 Format: Mini-Series; Print