Jeff Lemire, Matt Kindt, and Paolo Rivera’s The Valiant series comes to a close with many of the featured characters taking different paths. Is it good?
The Valiant #4 (Valiant Entertainment)
The opening sequence gets your emotions boiling a little bit. Lemire and Kindt decide to push the story into the future. My initial reaction was “What?!? They are just going to skip the climax they have been building to? I’ve been robbed.” Fortunately, I kept reading and this emotion subsided a tad when they returned to the present. However, displaying the future, even the distant future, takes a little steam out of the journey to get there. Foreshadowing can be bad and in this case it lessens the shock factor of a later scene.
Lemire and Kindt continue to create one of the most frightening and evil villains I have read. He combines the power of nature inherent in Doomsday with the ability to prey off his enemies’ fears like Scarecrow. He is the power of nature and fear incarnate. Not only do they continue to build up the pure evil of the Immortal Enemy, but intertwined within the almost non-stop action are large character-building moments for Kay, the Eternal Warrior, and Bloodshot. Kay fully comes into her own and you feel yourself cheering her on as she unleashes the power of the Geomancer to battle Mr. Flay. The dialogue between Kay and Bloodshot is extremely powerful, especially how Bloodshot is able to inspire Kay. There was one minor grammar issue when the Immortal Enemy taunts Bloodshot, but can easily be overlooked.
Paola Rivera once again does a great job of depicting the Immortal Enemy; the scene in the future is truly terrifying because it shows the past geomancers who have fallen victim as well as the form of the Eternal Warrior’s worst fear. It is a twisted reflection depicting the hopelessness of the situation. Rivera continues to capture the facial emotions of Kay and Bloodshot; you are able to see their strength, courage, weakness, and fear.
However, I was disappointed in the climactic moment where Lemire and Kindt detail the Immortal Enemy threatening the ripping of a spine, but Rivera depicts a gut wound instead. While the scene is moving, it feels wrong because the images do not match up with the dialogue. There is a large sense of dissonance created.
The core of the story had a satisfying ending; certain characters perished as to be expected and others were drastically changed. These are things to be expected of a major event such as this one. Lemire and Kindt were able to effectively weave a compelling story and bring it to a fulfilling conclusion. Despite this, there was one side plot which didn’t have closure. Lemire and Kindt introduce time travel in order to prevent an age of darkness within the Valiant Universe. It doesn’t really sit well with me because if the Immortal Enemy were truly a representative of nature this would not affect his motives. He would eliminate any and all geomancers because, “It is the way of things. Nature.” They do acknowledge this and even leave a similar question to us. It is a nice trick to create curiosity, but it doesn’t bring closure. Lemire and Kindt also continue to harp about the Eternal Warrior having to face time and the Immortal Enemy alone, except in every single fight against the Immortal Enemy he has had at least one person, the Geomancer, and in many cases a number of other warriors fighting with him.
Is It Good?
The Valiant #4 wraps up a very compelling mini-series event that will get you excited about the rest of the Valiant Universe. The clash between Bloodshot, Kay, and the Immortal Enemy comes to a close leaving the Valiant Universe changed forever. Lemire and Kindt provide compelling dialogue and build upon their core set of characters, delving into their emotions and leaving them exposed and finding strength. Paolo Rivera continued to create compelling artwork, although there was one major point where the writing did not match the artwork and created some dissonance. Lemire and Kindt were not without their faults in this issue either, where they did not fully give closure to certain characters and events and they spoiled a potentially shocking plot point with some massive foreshadowing.