“The Valiant” is the Best Superhero Crossover in Recent Memory (Review)

Note: This review was originally posted at ComicsBulletin.com

The last decade has seen a series of comic events which has been, for the most part, pretty terrible. The Valiant has not. Credit goes to co-writers Matt Kindt and Jeff Lemire and artists Paolo and Joe Rivera. This creative team has managed to craft a story with a wide enough to scope to warrant the inclusion of Archer, X-O Manowar, and the Eternal Warrior, while at the same time keeping the narrative tightly focused on intimate character interactions. The reason is that this event is a horror tale on a global scale, and The Valiant #4 sticks the landing.

With this concluding chapter, Kindt and Lemire manage to crank the tension up to eleven and then break off dial. After an opening sequence set in the far future, the issue is a non-stop ride through its climax. Kindt and Lemire are able to balance the issue’s dual storylines, seamlessly bringing them together by the final pages. Both narratives provide readers the necessary character developments and plot beats to keep them invested. The showdown between Bloodshot and Kay McHenry with the Immortal Enemy has all the intensity of a [good] slasher film, as well and allowing the Riveras the room to flex their muscles with stunning action.

The plot thread starring Eternal Warrior, Ninjak, and Breaker (among others) may be secondary, but remains crucial to the overall narrative. Their aim to unlock a “mystery box” – which was sent back in time from Eternal Warrior in the future – is  wonderfully paced. Tension builds with each passing panel as the characters attempt to unlock the trump card in the battle against the Immortal Enemy, fully aware of the plight facing Bloodshot and Kay.

In the issue’s back-half, the creative team finds a way to buck expectations for a truly surprising and affecting conclusion. Readers have become so used to the formula of modern comics, it is rare to come across a title [that isn’t from Image or Vertigo] where the stakes – and consequences – are real. Not the case in The Valiant. This is what superhero events should aspire to.


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