By Patrick Larose
The Knights of Kelodia are in a bad place.
The previous issue saw their loved ones killed, their town destroyed and their purpose wiped away all as a result of their own hubris.
We saw them at their high and we saw what brought on their fall and all that packed into a single issue played largely into why I didn’t care for it. Issue #1 of Green Valley had to introduce us to the four knight protagonists, their personalities and dynamics, establish their loved ones, their stakes then bring about the conflict and have us watch it all burn down. That’s a lot of ground to cram in the first issue and in the process made the story feel insubstantial and almost like the contents of an online-only prequel comic.
The dialog writing was sharp, the character relationships well defined but things moved so quickly we couldn’t hold any of the emotional contexts that mattered in our hands.
Rather than more of the same, issue two of Green Valley reverses all that, slows us down and lets us wallow in the ruins these characters have built for themselves. This slowness—this deliberate pace allows the miserable and self-loathing nature of the situation to sink in and really deliver a weight to the processes of the last issue.
Issue #2 actually made me like issue #1 more and I think it’s to the credit of Landis as a storytelling that this structure is so well thought out in this story.
In a letter to a friend, the playwright George Bernard Shaw said that when actors were told that they were taking too long to say their lines and that because the play was too long, they needed to speed up or cut lines, the better advice was always instead to slow down even more. What makes a part seem muddy or unnecessary is that the development is too compressed for the audience to follow. They need to expand it; articulate the development and that’ll make it clearer to the listeners.
By slowing down in this issue, letting us dedicate an entire issue to capture two real actions made these characters and their situations finally feel real. We can see how they each grieve in a different way like one ready to drown himself in his own armor or another obsessed with hoarding objects and standing them in for memories. There’s a more palpable texture to the characters that we could only brush by before.
So when the boy from Green Valley comes to them with the story of a wizard, a dragon and a trapped town, the knights’ consideration means something. When the knights put on their rusted armor and grab frayed weapons, there’s a reflection on the previous issue that gives an emotional heft to it all.
Comics and stories don’t always need a flash of action or the pile-driving of exposition to bring a story forward. Sometimes what’s better instead is to let us lay back and experience a few things slowly. Characters can then more thoroughly develop, their emotions understood but above all establish that sometimes the slow, undying and solemn moments are as compelling, if not more so, than the action that oversaturates the medium.
Mourning is always more compelling than celebration. After all, it’s our lows that stay with us—those deep pits our stomachs drop to—often more than highs. We cherish our injuries and use fiction as a way to memorialize them and project the image of others who survived and surpassed them.
You don’t need a wizard or a dragon to tell a narrative but you always need the promise that maybe everything that falls down eventually rises.
Green Valley #2
Writer: Max Landis
Artist: Giuseppe Camuncoli
Publisher: Image Comics