Dead Drop is an entertaining detour uniting some agreeably random elements of the Valiant Universe. The collected edition is now available.
Centered on the hunt for a potentially destructive alien virus, Dead Drop tags in flagship character X-O Manowar, polymath hero Archer (of Archer & Armstrong), smart and tough Detective Cejudo, goofy old-school cyborg Beta-Max (the latter two both from Quantum and Woody), and Neville Alcott, the Valiant Universe’s top spymaster. The heroes pursue the virus during a tense hunt through the streets of New York. Inscrutable aliens, well-meaning but possibly misguided hacktivists and a whole bunch of innocent bystanders cross into the story as the heroes untangle a prickly situation to save the world.
Written by Ales Kot, Dead Drop works a propulsive mix of Sci-Fi, conspiracy and real world terrorism concerns into a kinetic action story. It’s the kind of self-contained limited series that Valiant has been whipping up recently, giving the spotlight to an interesting cross-section of characters, many of whom were without a regular home at the time. Unencumbered by continuity baggage, Kot crafts a fast-moving plot that gives each of the stars some nice moments to shine. He does some especially decent character work with X-O and Cejudo. Beta-Max manages a goofy appeal, though Archer sometimes comes off as more learning challenged than sheltered.
Kot works in issues like suspect profiling and the thorny choices involved in public safety situations, but manages to do so without being pedantic. For the most part, Dead Drop is an involving, at times humorous, romp through a particularly tense day in the Valiant Universe that’s entertaining and satisfying.
Artist Adam Gorham and colorist Michael Spicer are a solid team that give Dead Drop a clean, grounded feel. The action flows smoothly in a well-constructed, unfussy fashion that enhances the tension and pulse of the action-intensive series. Gorham’s approach to facial expressions and musculature can occasionally seem a tad off-key, but he comes up with some really inventive alien designs and keeps everything smooth and clean. Spicer’s color work is subtle and complements Gorham quite nicely. He mostly uses a muted palette and works effectively with shadows, but deploys pops of brighter tones at the right moments. Overall, it’s classic comic book work with a decent real world grounding.
Dead Drop is very friendly for new readers. One really doesn’t need much background to jump into the action and be able to figure out the characters within a couple panels. If you’re a newcomer interested in sampling the Valiant Universe, it’s a nice, low burden (and reasonably priced) entry point. And it’s definitely recommended for existing Valiant fans.
Originally published at thunderalleybcpcom.ipage.com on December 8, 2015.