Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Book of Death #4 (HERE BE SPOILERS!)

I was really excited about this issue, but I have to admit that I'm disappointed.  Venditti leaves a lot on the table here.

First, the story resolves itself in the most obvious way possible:  Tama defeats the Corrupted One while Gilad saves David.  Tama is apparently able to defeat Darque because he's weaker than he should be.  According to the original plan, David would defeat Tama and then Darque would take David's power, giving Darque the powers of two Geomancers.  But, David rebelled, so Darque had to step up the time frame, stealing David's powers to fight Tama.  In the end, David surrenders his power to Tama and even gets to live happily ever after with his mother (even though I was pretty sure that she died in the first issue).  Gilad is allegedly allowed to die a true death, and the Corrupted One is destroyed forever.  It's all a little pat, but I'll admit that it still all flows logically event to event.

My disappointment comes from the fact that Venditti doesn't shed light on the larger issues that this series raised within the Valiant Universe.  We never learn anything about the Corrupted One.  The Book of Geomancers implies that he's an eternal figure, and I'll admit that I have problems at this point differentiating him from the Immortal Enemy from "The Valiant."  They seem to have the same modus operandi:  destroy the Geomancer and bring about a Dark Age.  Moreover, we have no idea how Tama even comes to existence in the future.  In this issue, we learn that Darque crossed into the land of the dead after he successfully killed off every living creature on Earth.  But, if he killed everything, how did Tama get conceived?  Did the Earth give birth to her?

To make matters worse, the story is undermined by weirdly distracting bold lettering.  (I'll never under-appreciate a letterer again.)  We also get an art shift at the end that serves as the same distraction that it always does.  It all just feels rushed.  I get that Valiant probably prides itself on not devolving into the chaos that Marvel has with "Secret Wars," with a constantly delayed release schedule and a surprise extra issue.  But, I would've been happy to wait two weeks if it meant getting a more polished product.

"The Valiant" was an amazing event that got me hooked on the Valiant Universe, whereas this event, unfortunately, felt like an event just for event's sake.  We have enough of those types of events from the Big Two that Valiant should probably think carefully about going down this road again if it wants to hold onto the "different" crown.

** (two of five stars)

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