A standalone summer event is upon us from Valiant and it involves Biblical elements combining the forces of multiple heroes in their universe. Sounds good, but can a reader who knows nothing of main character Tama enjoy it? Based on this first issue, the answer is yes.
Writer: Matt Kindt
Publisher: Valiant Entertainment
So what’s it about?
The official summary reads:
One army is led by a primeval force named Babel, whose goal is singular: to breach “Heaven” no matter the cost. The only thing standing in his way is a gray-haired barbaric warrior, filled with rage and regret, a man who sees this battle as his last chance for redemption. But he knows his depleted forces have little chance of victory unless aid comes. Enter Tama: A 12-year old girl on the crest of a hill overlooking the battle, who has just become humanity’s only hope. The last in an ancient line of mystics who protect the Earth, she has foreseen this battle and knows millions will perish if she’s unable to stop it. Now Tama and her ragtag team of malcontents – Ninjak, Shadowman and Punk Mambo – must somehow defeat an elder god hell bent on piercing the heavens.
Why does this book matter?
A story involving Ninjak, a Geomancer named Tama and Shadowman up against a world-ending threat? Sounds good, and with writer Matt Kindt behind it it’s bound to have great character writing.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
I love the use of title cards to set up each scene.
Going in completely blind with no idea who Tama is or what is going on, I ended up liking this issue and the story as a whole very much. There were a few bumps along the way–namely, I was having a hard time caring about Tama or understanding what was going on, but over time Kindt’s captions pulled me into Tama’s character. She’s kind, understanding and filled with empathy, to the point where it’s hard to not like this character. As she quests–because really that’s what she’s doing to open this issue–you discover new interesting fantasy-like elements that help flesh out the world before her. There’s a Tolkien style to her journey which includes the slower pace (of Tolkien’s books anyway) that somehow steals your attention without notice.
The comic itself sold me 100% when an ancient story of Babel was explained. This story twists the truth of what Babel really was incredibly well. Kindt captures your imagination with this retelling and it’s not only an interesting retelling, but also more compelling than the Biblical story too. This story also adds weight to Tama’s story, so that when she recruits Ninjak and Shadowman to help her it all feels incredibly important.
Artist Cafu draws a good issue and it’s best when fantasy creatures and incredible worlds grace the backgrounds. That’s not to say the quieter, more close up moments aren’t drawn well, but his true talents rise up when epic vistas and incredible creatures grace the page. He’s the perfect artist for this series because it’s these fantastical elements that draw it out and make it feel unique. Later, when Tama visits Ninjak, there’s a beautiful cityscape–possibly painted with watercolor–that helps convey the brightness of our world. Overall the tone is dark, but it suits a story titled Rapture!
How does that water work anyway?
It can’t be perfect can it?
There’s definitely a handicap reading this without reading Shadowman or any previous Tama stories. When Shadowman is introduced, there’s a heaviness to his internal struggle somewhat explored that’s lost on a reader who hasn’t read previous stories of theirs. Tama is incredibly nice and understanding, but not knowing her previous struggles makes relating to the character difficult. This is of course on the reader to some extent, but Kindt certainly drops the reader in so that the gravity of the characters situations is lost unless you’ve read previous chapters.
Is It Good?
This is a great opening salvo to a series that’ll be right in the wheelhouse for fantasy fans. The big hook of this series twists a classic Biblical story in a very interesting way, further proving Matt Kindt is a writer to watch.