An epic struggle between the protectors of Earth and chaos that spans centuries and civilizations has unfolded with every battle ending in the same way. Can the pattern be broken? Can entropy and decay be defeated? Is it good?
The Valiant #1 (Valiant Entertainment)
Writers Jeff Lemire and Matt Kindt spend the first ten pages of The Valiant portraying a multitude of battles between Gilad, the immortal protector of the Geomancers, and a force of entropy and decay. The narration takes the voice of Gilad giving the reader a good view into his unflagging determination and belief he can adapt to overcome the Immortal Enemy. However, outside of the narration, Kindt and Lemire adopt a different tone. The Immortal Enemy taunts Gilad and challenges his belief and determination with the power of a law of nature. In just ten short pages Lemire and Kindt introduce a strong stalwart character only to bring doubt and defeat to break this potential hero.
Artist Paolo Rivera draws on a number of mythological stories and legends across civilizations to depict the Immortal Enemy, who changes its form based on the fears of the civilization it has set out to destroy. One constant among each version of the creature is the depiction of the flesh being cut or torn away to reveal a stark white skull inside the creature’s black skin. The imagery is able to amplify Kindt and Lemire’s words describing the creature as decay and entropy.
The book shifts drastically into the future and the newest Geomancer, Kay McHenry, a young woman who is struggling to find her place in the world let alone dealing with her newfound powers. Lemire and Kindt use a monologue that appears to break the fourth wall until they introduce the companion she is actually talking to. Her introduction is in almost complete contrast with Gilad – where his actions and thoughts are on display Kay’s emotions are laid out in a dialogue.
Continuing with the introduction of new characters, Lemire and Kindt jump to a third major character, Bloodshot, a former assassin. His story appears to be completely out of place with an intense action sequence involving the procurement and protection of a special package somewhere in the Pacific Rim. Despite the apparent random introduction of Bloodshot, Kindt, Lemire, and Rivera are able to not only provide a compelling back story, but interesting motivation through a combination of dialogue and action. Rivera creates a very compelling piece where he gives the user a first person look through Bloodshot’s eyes as he activates one of his abilities. The art evokes the idea Bloodshot is able to instantly know everything about the machine he is occupying and be able to instantaneously learn how to use it.
The issue ends where you would expect it would, the endless battle between the Geomancers and the Immortal Enemy, but there are a lot of questions the reader is left with. Will Gilad prove successful this time around and how does Bloodshot fit into the story?
Is It Good?
The Valiant #1 focuses on excellent character creation with an overarching battle between the caretakers of Earth and the Immortal Enemy, a force of entropy and decay. In just this one issue Matt Kindt, Jeff Lemire, and Paolo Rivera are able to introduce three compelling and interesting characters with diverse backgrounds and their own problems. However, Bloodshot’s story does not seem connected to the issue and Kay’s development leaves a lot of blank spaces that are begging to be filled.