Search This Blog

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Valen the Outcast. Volume 2: Death Eternal. Michael Alan Nelson (Writer), Matteo Scalera (Art), Archie Van Buren (Colours), Ed Dukshire (Letters), BOOM! Studios (2012)

Superb conclusion to a story that puts heart into sword and sorcery without ever compromising on the action. Valen Brand, undead ex-king of Oakhaven is on a journey to recover his soul from the necromancer Korrus Null with his companions Zjanna and Alexio Cordovan. After an encounter with Furies who hate trespassesr on thier seas and a battering meeting with the ghost of his wife, Valen and the other finally make landfall. Their troubles, of course are only starting as the threats they face, including a skulk, a group of women warriors who Zajanna used to belong to, are nothing to the danger they face when they arrive at the court of Korrus Null.The action never flags, the reveals are clever and meaty, the finale surprising and very fitting.
What had started out as a great sword and sorcery action story with a smart plot, engaging cast and tremendous action develops in a most unexpected and satisfying way. The action is as fast as ever, what changes is that as the plot reveals itself it also adds depth and force to the cast, giving them a more resonant context for their actions and reactions. The story becomes more than straightforward recovery and revenge, love,loss, grief and the depths of friendship all come to the fore without every being plastered onto the the story. They arise naturally from the cast and the way choices they make under dreadful circumstances.
Sword and sorcery trades in simple big stories and concepts and Michael  Alan Nelson has a confident sure grasp of this, at the same time he has realised that action give you the room for more subtle moments that add force to the swordplay.
Matteo Scalara'a art is angular and explosive where required and great at the detail as well, This range means that the full scope of the story can be shown, the action when it comes is not just physical, it is a reflection of the character and their choices. The is a great deal of interplay between the cast that gets the sly detail of face and body language to get right and Matteo Scalara provide it.
Archie Van Buren's colours glow and are simply fantastic, they give an extra dimension to the whole story, they highten the contrast where needed, the pick out details and give definition to the context. They capture the heightened  and deliberately alien context that sword and sorcery works best in. Ed Dukeshire's letters are unobtrusive and effective when required and smashingly effective when just the right sound effect is called for.
The women of the skulk are dressed in the usual skimpy garments that are absurd for any fighter, there is minimal protection and maximum exposure. In a small and very telling moment a smart explanation is provided for it. The whole combined story resonates with this kind of thoughtful respect for the reader, small details that take the cast and the story seriously enough so that the reader is taken seriously too. A great story and a wonderful comic.

No comments:

Post a Comment