By Dustin Cabeal
I enjoy the Archer and Armstrong side of the Valiant Universe, particularly for Armstrong and his brothers which are a great concept. Each of them being an Immortal, but living out the ages differently. This issue covers once such journey and is a reimagining of Gawain and the Green Knight or better yet an infusion of the story into the Valiant Universe.
For the most part, the story works. There are elements that I don’t particularly care for and that all stems from the fact that the story feels the need to call out everything that’s its referencing as it’s referencing it. Instead of just letting the audience figure out that this is Gawain and the Green Knight infused in the Valiant U., Archer informs us as such as he reads the book to Faith and intermingles the version he heard from Armstrong who is the author of the story. If that wasn’t meta enough, this is being done via a Princess Bride style of “You’re sick, let me read to you” device, that is also instantly called out. It is okay to read that device and hear from readers on the internet say, “that’s so Princess Bride” because by taking away that freebie comment from them they’ll not dissect the parallels instead of going for low hanging fruit.
The art is delightful and by far the best aspect of the issue. Which should surprise no one considering its Cary Nord handling the Archer and Faith side of the story, which isn’t a waste of his talents, though, it could have easily have been. Clayton Henry, probably Valiant’s best overall artist and the definer of their character designs, is on the Green Knight side of things and he illustrates the King Arthur era of the story wonderfully. Henry makes it look both realistic and fairy book in the same stroke of the pencil. Tying together both styles is inker Mark Morales and colorist Brian Reber, both contribute to the house style of Valiant. Can we pause and just appreciate the fact that Valiant has a house style when so many other publishers don’t? I’m not saying that all publishers should, but it’s nice to see a shared universe such as Valiant, favor a house style to give the books a unified look.
At some point, the Archer and Armstrong side of the Valiant U. became more meta and internet jokes, which is a damn shame since these characters are full of stories to be told. This issue is a solid issue, the story is well-plotted, the dialogue is sharp and fits the characters that Fred Van Lente helped relaunch, but the biggest knock against it is that it couldn’t resist calling out what it was doing. Ven Lente didn’t need to do that, and it would have been fine without it.
Immortal Brothers: The Tale of the Green Knight #1
Writer: Fred Van Lente
Artists: Cary Nord with Clayton Henry
Inker: Mark Morales
Colorist: Brian Reber
Publisher: Valiant Comics