A group of knights who are badass as hell without a scrap of ego are getting older and living comfortably. Enter the Barbarian Lord.
What’s the worst that can happen?
Green Valley #1 (Image Comics)
So what’s it about? The Image summary reads:
The knights of Kelodia are the finest in the land, but they’ve never faced a power like the one that resides in the Green Valley… MAX LANDIS (Chronicle, American Ultra, Superman: American Alien) and GIUSEPPE CAMUNCOLI (Amazing Spider-Man) welcome you to the world of Green Valley… where nothing is ever what it seems.
Why does this book matter?
Max Landis is one of the hottest writers in Hollywood these days, especially if you’re a fellow nerd. Landis has worked on the upcoming Power Rangers film, has a new TV show on the way (Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency) and is an all around cool dude on Twitter. He also just came off a fantastic seven-issue miniseries about Superman called American Alien. Because of that, you prick up your ears when his name shows up on a title. Match him up with fantastic artist Giuseppe Camuncoli who has been killing it on Spider-Man and this new book from Image Comics should be a no-brainer.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
It’s evident from page one Max Landis has a handle on good dialogue. It’s not so much the time period in which Green Valley takes place, which is in the medieval epoch of knights and kings – but because it flows so nicely. The characters sound natural and genuine. The opening of the book gives you the sense that these men have been to war more times than they can count and that’s their way of life. Just another day at work so to speak. It makes the reader wonder if people like this existed in the past, where even when facing an army of thousands they chatted and waited for the battle to get going rather than shit their pants like we all know we would. These opening pages set the tone so that when the action ramps up, or calamity strikes our characters, it feels all the more real.
And don’t you worry, the book is not all dialogue, nor is it missing character work either. The knights of Kelodia are made up of four men, who all get some time to develop in this issue. Sir Bertwald seems to be the main protagonist, as he gets the most time of the bunch (and also gets the most to fight for by the end) and he’s likeable and interesting. One might say writing less is more and I think Max Landis has done that here. The characters feel realistic, but you’re not getting full-on exposition and backstory for each of them either. The character moments are in between the lines, or in subtle facial expressions of reaction, which is not unlike a screenplay.
Two calm chums.
The story progresses at a fine pace too. By the end you’ll want to see what the baddies have in store for them – because damn do they deserve it – and you’ll be interested to see what four average joe knights can bring when they’ve lost all reason to retire ever again.
The art by Camuncoli is delightfully cinematic, with a wide panel throughout the tale that at times focuses in on one character amongst clouds, or a single moment of chaos. I particularly liked how Camuncoli drew the surroundings; from the castles to a singular tree on a hill to a small village — each setting does well to capture the scene. Colorist Jean-Francois Beaulieu captures a lot of light and texture in the skies with an almost watercolor-ish look. Some of the clouds and trees – and really the characters too – have a European comic style that’s highly detailed and textured. Bertwald’s incredible chainmail is a good example. You can tell the art team put a lot of time into Green Valley.
It can’t be perfect can it?
People are going to bemoan the fact that the plot appears to be turning in the direction of the revenge tale. It’s not a bad thing per se, but the book is being billed as one that’s filled with surprises. It’s way too early to tell, but the cliffhanger doesn’t do quite enough to make you believe that.
It’s probably dickish of me to say this given how much I like the art, but the horses are a bit awkward looking here and there. In one double page layout for instance, the horse looks practically wooden. In another, Bertwald’s axe is strangely cutting through the horse dangling between its legs.
Is It Good?
Green Valley #1 is a calm before the storm opening salvo that will kick you in the teeth more than once. It has a handle on dialogue that’s expected from Landis at this point, but just as satisfying as ever. You will dig this tale if you like your knights believable and primed for violence.