Book of Death #1

The Valiant heroes. X-O Manowar. Bloodshot. Ninjak. The Harbinger Renegades. Unity. This is how they lived. This is how they died.

The Book of the Geomancer has recorded it all. But only a young girl – the last in a line of the enigmatic mystics who protect the Earth known as Geomancers – has seen this future come to pass, from the coming cataclysm to the dawn of the 41st century. Alone with her sworn protector, the Eternal Warrior – a soldier battle-forged across five thousand years of combat – the duo must defy their allies to stop the Dark Age that now threatens to eclipse our world.

Robert Venditti
Robert Gill
Doug Braithwaite
Valiant Entertainment

This mini event, which picks up after the events of the series The Valiant is interesting, if only in how it displays a complete dedication to tight continuity and structure over any sort of welcoming presence to new readers, or even those who may have stopped reading comics in the Valiant line for a while.

Whilst it is admirable that a company is willing to double down on it’s existing fanbase, in an era where events are attempting to appeal to everyone with a male teenage mindset is the de jour, it’s also reveals the biggest weaknesses of that line of thinking. Like coming into a show such as Lost five seasons in, anyone not already versed in the various story beats and character interplays are only going to feel left out and, ultimately, unlikely to want to pick up another issue or investigate the universe any further.

That’s where I find myself and to a degree it’s refreshing – I finally get remember the experience of that many new readers have when they read a continuity dense comic for the first time – utter confusion! But it’s hardly something you would slap on the front of a comic to sell issues.

It’s not even the plot itself, which is pretty straightforward. It’s the sense of alienation I get because, bar a pithy text box that briefly describes their backstory and powers, I really don’t get a feeling of who these characters are and why I should care about them. It’s just several groups of hypermasculine warriors growling and making threats at one another, whilst an omnipresent narrative story device tells us that the universe is doomed.

The artwork is also oddly inconsistent, with characters going from brutes with forearms thicker than their heads to wry, sprightly fighters the next time they show up.

All in all, I am being overly hard on Book of Death, given it has three issues to go. But summer events are usually used by publishers to not only reward long time readers with a culmination to long running storylines, but as jumping on points for new readers.

Despite me really wanting to like Book of Death and wanting to see the series to its conclusion, issue 1 does neither. Unless you like wildly inconsistent art and uninteresting characters threatening one another for 34 pages, I can’t see this being many other people’s bag either.

Maybe the 90’s comic scene never went away after all.

Book of Death is available from Valiant Entertainment

Geek-o-Rama received a copy of this book for the purpose of this review. All thoughts, comments and opinions are those of the individual reviewer.

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