By Levi Remington
The consistently impressive and ever boundless Matt Kindt, who has fast become an arbiter of the Valiant universe, is teaming up again with artist CAFU for Rapture, a 4-issue standalone event series. The book stars Ninjak and Shadowman as they take to the Deadside with Geomancer Tama and Punk Mambo to defend against an ancient evil that threatens to breach the heavens, bringing cataclysm to Earth. Valiant promises a "Tolkien-esque" journey through the Deadside, making for the publisher's first ever high-fantasy epic. Read ahead for my thoughts on the first issue after I translate the gleeps and glorps
While the marketing has emphasized Ninjak and Shadowman's involvement, this first issue centers around Tama and T.A.D.D., her tiny and squishy companion who communicates via "glorps" and "glars" that are incomprehensible to all except the Geomancer herself. The meat of the story sees these two venturing through the Deadside. They encounter various otherworldly creatures and environments, solve riddles, and avoid traps, all in pursuit of preventing the Geomancer catastrophe.
The adventurous tone is carried by some light and colorful banter. This, in addition to Tama's confidence in traversing such alien landscapes, is tonally reminiscent of adventure stories like Indiana Jones. Even through heavy narration, which serves to setup the main conflict and provide amusing commentary, the story is briskly paced. It never overstays its welcome, and there are a number of small laughs to be had along the way.
Much of the issue is spent explaining things, setting the stage for the reader. This is done very effectively, as even readers unfamiliar with the Valiant Universe should have no trouble navigating the story. The recap page will catch you up to speed with all you need to know, but the story feels largely standalone after that. With all of that in mind, it's clear why the first issue isn't kicking things off with a bang. My hope for the rest of the series is that we can get more unadulterated exploration and excitement now that the necessary context has been established and dealt with.
The art, which is illustrated by CAFU and colored by Andrew Dalhouse, is perfect for the Deadside. The dark realm is brought to life with gloomy atmosphere, rich textures, and gentle, beautifully depicted creatures. The colors are a huge part of the look, painting the scenery with a shifting palette that's both mystical and haunting in mood. Some of the post-processing effects add to the beauty of the comic as well. The bloom, glimmers of light, and glowing particles in the air all lend toward majestic and enchanting visuals in the scene with Amy. The visuals become a bit duller in the MI-6 Black-Site Prison, but this takes up a small portion of the comic, and it's not exactly a fault of the artists, it's just that the location is visually much less extravagant.
Rapture makes a strong debut as Valiant's first comic to concentrate on high-fantasy adventure. With charming dialogue, fantastic backdrops, and classically entertaining exploration, this is a fun and accessible introduction to the Deadside.
Written by Matt Kindt
Art by CAFU
Colors by Andrew Dalhouse
Letters by Dave Sharpe
Published by Valiant Comics