The penultimate issue of The Valiant is here, and shit is really starting to hit the proverbial fan. For all that I generally didn’t have an interest in the Valiant Universe before this series, and I’ve reviewed some titles that I’ve less-than-loved on this site, each issue of The Valiant makes me want to pick up a new title from the company, just to see what it’s all about. In this issue, all the amassed forces of the Valiant Universe are aligned against the Immortal Enemy (Mr. Flay), while Bloodshot and Kay the Geomancer seek refuge in a local shopping mall to recuperate (and for Bloodshot’s frickin’ arm to grow back on), and learn some new things about each other. There’s some black humor, there’s some MI-6/Rising Spirit espionage hijinks, and there’s some truly epic art by Paolo Rivera. It’s everything that makes this series special.
As one of the true event books from Valiant, I can’t help but draw some comparisons between this series and some of the recent Big Two stuff, like Spider-Verse and Future’s End. Where Spider-Verse tries to tell a comparatively smaller story like this one, its got two more issues, and felt very rushed, especially come the final issue. Future’s End is running for almost an entire year once everything is said and done, but it’s out to create an entire world, hung on the shoulders of ostensibly stopping Brother Eye from taking over the future. Meanwhile, The Valiant is Lemire and Kindt at their leanest, storytelling-wise, but the series never feels rushed, and it gives us all the details of the world that we need, along with all that we need to know about the characters. It also avoids one of the major pitfalls of most events: where this one promises some shakeups, it’s very clearly leading to some of Valiant’s new series, like Lemire’s Bloodshoot: Reborn. Rather than picturing event books as periods in sentences, where things have to stop and then start over, Lemire and Kindt are using the Valiant Universe like a series of sine waves; they all have ups and downs, and the moments where they briefly intersect are stories like The Valiant.
The back of each issue of The Valiant has featured one of the two writers providing commentary over some process work by Paolo Rivera. Usually, there is some trivia about how the issue was written, or what their goal is for a certain scene, but it pretty much always just devolves into Lemire and Kindt praising Paolo Rivera’s name to the heavens. They’re not wrong; the guy is killing it. He’s been doing great action sequences and interpersonal scenes for the past couple issues, but this month, he gets to bust out and do a double page splash of pretty much everyone in the Valiant Universe beating the ever-living shit out of the Immortal Enemy. Quantum and Woody are here with their goat, Archer and Armstrong showed up, X-O Manowar, Punk Mambo... those are just the ones I could recognize at a glance. Pretty sure there were some psiots there, but I’m not following the Harbinger books, so I can’t be sure. The point here is that Paolo Rivera is truly on that next-level shit, and us puny mortals are lucky to have him grace these pages every month.
This issue managed to be a pretty even split between personal dynamics of Bloodshot and Kay (which, again, Paolo Rivera’s faces and “acting” are beyond amazing), and mind-shattering physical and psychological warfare with the Immortal Enemy. It manages to feel like the calm before the storm, as well as the storm itself, which is a sign of how well Kindt and Lemire are working together on this book. It’ll be a shame to see it end next month, but color me interested in the Valiant Next titles they’re launching (Ninjak and Bloodshot: Reborn are at the top of my list), and it’s all because of that holy grail, the well-written/consistently-well-drawn event book.
Writer: Jeff Lemire and Matt Kindt Artist: Paolo Rivera with Joe Rivera Letterer: Dave Lanphear Publisher: Valiant Comics Price: $3.99 Release Date: 2/18/15 Format: Mini-Series; Print/Digital