Book of Death is another strong outing with significant impact for the Valiant Universe. The collected edition is now available.
At the outset of Book of Death, environmental disasters have had deadly consequences in several American towns. Unity thinks that Tama, the 11-year-old Geomancer from the future, is responsible. The Eternal Warrior absconds with the girl to keep her safe, putting him at odds with his team. Meanwhile, Tama becomes aware that another Geomancer has activated and fallen under a corrupt influence. She and the Warrior scour the Book of the Geomancer, containing information about the horrific course events could take, for clues. A brutal showdown ends with some serious consequences for the heroes.
Unlike previous Valiant event series with a larger cast, Book of Death really focuses on The Eternal Warrior. Tama and Unity provide some crucial support, but other Valiant characters appear only in cameo. Fortunately writer Robert Venditti has a strong grasp of the Warrior and what drives him. He does a nice job with the Warrior/Tama dynamic, teasing out a paternal bond without being treacly about it, and crafting a cracked mirror image in the relationship of the corrupted Geomancer and the story’s villain. Venditti brings back one of Valiant’s signature menaces for the story and uses him quite effectively. If the rest of Unity (along with the little seen mystical character Punk Mambo) are mostly along for the ride, Venditti still breathes some life into them. Overall, he crafts a compelling adventure that makes strong use of various threads that had been running through the Valiant books over the past few years. The climax marks a major change in the status quo for the Warrior, puts Unity on a different footing and sets up the eventual return of another key Valiant hero who’s been off the board for awhile (though that’s not teased in this story).
Artists Robert Gill and Doug Braithwaite, working with a color team consisting of David Baron, Brian Reber and Allen Passalaqua, craft some strong visuals. Gill’s crisp, sharp linework for the action sequences is an effective contrast to the dreamier approach Braithwaite applies for the scenes illustrating predictions from the Book of the Geomancers. The action/fight choreography is excellent and the art team crafts some rather striking visuals. A town’s population skewered on an overgrown tree is particularly memorable, if somewhat grisly, and the Warrior’s showdown with a horde of zombie animals is a horror masterstroke. The art brims with tension and drama, with spot-on color work that enhances visual impact. Book of Death is a beautiful series that keeps up Valiant’s high standards.
Fans of The Eternal Warrior and those who have already read The Valiant will be especially interested in Book of Death. It’s not the easiest jumping on point for newcomers, but for existing Valiant fans it should be on your “to read” list.
Originally published at thunderalleybcpcom.ipage.com on February 24, 2016.