Since the release of X-O Manowar #1 back in 2012, Valiant Comics has seen an incredible resurgence. Two years later, the publisher has a full stable of talented creators the consistently produce a variety of quality books each month. From the crazy antics of Quantum and Woody, the badass action of Shadowman, or the centuries-spanning adventures of Eternal Warrior, Valiant offers something for nearly everyone. For those that still have not given any of the publisher’s titles a look, The Valiant is the perfect jumping-on point. The four-issue miniseries by writers Jeff Lemire (Animal Man, Sweet Tooth) and Matt Kindt (Mind MGMT) and artist Paolo Rivera (Daredevil) is a cohesive and entertaining glimpse at the fledgling comic book universe.
The tone of the issue is one that combines mystery and intrigue with action. Fittingly, most of The Valiant #1 is dedicated to action heroes Eternal Warrior and Bloodshot. The uninitiated should have no problem picking this up, as Lemire and Kindt do a wonderful job of providing background context for the various characters that crop up here. The character that might cause new readers to scratch their heads is the appearance of Aric (X-O Manowar) for one of the final panels, but those questions are quickly answered in the issue’s “bonus materials.”
From the opening page, one thing is clear to new and longtime readers alike: Paolo Rivera’s artwork is stunning. The former Daredevil artist injects the issue with a cinematic quality. The opening sequences with the Eternal Warrior have moments that are truly breathtaking and give the title a scope akin to classic Hollywood epics like Ben Hur or modern fantasy spectacles such as the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Rivera does not waste any space, filling each panel with a compelling mix action, horror, and heartbreak that characterize the Eternal Warrior’s journey throughout time. His repeated failure to protect various “geomancers” – guardians of Earth – brings us to the present.
As the time period changes, so does the issue’s tone as Lemire and Kindt introduce readers to the immortal drunk (and brother to the Eternal Warrior) Armstrong and the latest geomancer, Kay. Wisely, the writers being this sequence with two pages of dialogue from Kay. Both the layout and the script work in tandem to give the illusion of a person fidgeting throughout a conversation. This is rarely seen in an industry driven by bombastic action and, more importantly, it allows the readers to invest emotionally in the character. Those unfamiliar with Armstrong are in for a treat, as he is a scene-stealer during his brief appearance. Lemire and Kindt perfectly capture the voice of the irreverent hobo, who manages to spit out meaningful advice to the rightfully-anxious Kay.
The issue’s final sequence involving Bloodshot does an admirable job of introducing the character that is not overly redundant for readers of his book, as well as setting up the conflict that will bleed over into the opening of The Valiant #2. Though the cliffhanger is more than enough reason for readers to come back for the next issue, it is the characterization of Bloodshot – as well as the rest of the book’s cast – that is the real draw here. This is a book filled with characters that do not have mainstream recognition of Superman or Spider-Man, yet the writers have written them so that readers can easily latch on and relate to them – regardless of their predicament. To that end, The Valiant #1 is a rousing success.