Review: Book of Death #1

BOD_001_COVER-A_GILLAs an avid comic book reader, I have seen quite a few indie publishers come and go. There are comic book companies Virgin Comics, which actually spawned some excellent titles to NOW Comics, which actually had the first crack at Green Hornet, before Dynamite got the rights, to Malibu Comics and Topps Comics, whom although had some promising titles were bought up by the Big 2.Then there is Valiant Comics, which seemed to go the way of Malibu and Topps, when it got shut down back in 2004, but then in 2005, two entrepreneurs breathed fresh life into the brand and restarted it.

Since that time, Valiant has enjoyed a lot of mainstream success, even bringing in talents from the Big 2 and other indie publishers to revive their flagship characters. Growing up, I was never really a fan of Valiant, as I remember seeing the title of X-O Manowar, and even flipping through the pages of one of the issues, when I used to visit Jim Hanley’s Universe in State Island, and not even remotely being interested. Then a few years ago, after I saw the cover of one of the issues for Ninjak, I did the same thing, and thumbed through a few pages, but this time, was completely enthralled, as not only the art, but also the story, was captivating. Now, Valiant has gotten into the event series business, but not at the same level as most comic book universes have, instead on a small-scale, and only with a handful of books, which actually seems to be a smart bet.

If you are not familiar with this universe, the writers give you a short synopsis on page 2, which is actually refreshing, as Marvel and DC expects a reader to know, while Valiant makes it easy for a new a reader to hop on, but not enough for a reader to be invested in any of them. Book of Death takes place soon after the previous miniseries The Valiant and has the Eternal Warrior and Geomancer hiding in Southeast Oregon as Gilad protects both Tama—an ecological messianic figure—from the world, and the world from her. Within this first issue, fatalities are everywhere, but it is the secondary characters that populate the body count thus far, with each of the main ones facing off against death in their own titles. The unfortunate thing about this book, is that Vindetti, tells you straight out that each of these characters, will die, which makes the predisposition, a hard one, for the reader to either continue or not continue with the book, if you do continue on, the action does ramp up, with death looming over each of the characters, which allows the event to come off more like a game of Clue.

This is a great introduction into this world, even though one knows from jump, not to be too invested, as each of them will die soon after. Robert Venditti’s writing has enough levity and tension, for the reader to be absorbed enough to come back for his end game to all of this. Doug Braithwaite’s art is pretty standard as compared to his previous works, but serves its purpose for this book. Overall, an interesting concept, that although has been done multiple times throughout comics, is still fascinating enough to see it done again in this universe.

Story: Robert Venditti Art: Doug Braithwaite
Story: 8 Art: 7 Overall: 8 Recommendation: Read