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Review: The Forgotten Queen #4

The Forgotten Queen #4

Vexana’s true origin story is revealed in The Forgotten Queen #4! How does it change the history of the Valiant Universe? You thought you had family drama? Try being an immortal conqueror!

Whereas the previous issue had a plot that kept me engaged from beginning to end, The Forgotten Queen #4 plays off the revelation from the previous issue as Vexana’s first days as an immortal are retold in greater detail, which brings the story full circle – though it also has the adverse effect of making everything seem too familiar.

The best way for me to describe this comic, is that it is a comic of moments. Moments that are going to linger with you long after you’ve finished the comic. These moments, such as the culmination of the segment of the comic on the beach are fantastically memorable, but they’re not the entirety of the comic.

Tini Howard gives us about half a comic that is essential reading for Valiant fans looking to find out more about Vexana and her relationship with the characters we know and love, and half a comic that seems to just miss the mark (perhaps a perfect example of this is a panel with either flying fish, or a mis-coloured sea floor; the art is solid, but a lack of clarity regarding the colouring takes you out of the moment.

The focus on last issue’s revelation hampers the issue a little. It’s a choice that I wouldn’t change though. There’s a lot of throwbacks to some earlier Valiant issues that you’ll read with new eyes because of this book. Added to that we also see the character react brilliantly when faced with what must be a very tempting offer. Brilliantly, and very true to Vexana’s nature.

Amilcar Pinna and Ulises Arreola combine for a comic that, again, has moments that are visually solid and moments that are less so. For every panel that pulls you into the comic (there’s a great close-up of the titular character’s eyes) there’s one that makes you stop to try and figure it out. The flying fish, for example. It’s not that the art is bad, but the moments in which you need the art to be strong to balance the script… it isn’t.

The Forgotten Queen #4 has none of the quibbles I had regarding the previous issue. Instead it surpasses my expectations with what I thought would be possible with a series focusing on War Monger. If you’re a Valiant fan, it’s absolutely worth reading this series. Whether War Monger will play a larger part in the future of Valiant, I don’t know. But, it never hurts to gain additional insight into a character that hasn’t had the spotlight in recent years.

Story: Tini Howard Art: Amilcar Pinna
 Colours: Ulises Arreola Letters: Jeff Powel 
Story: 7.1 Art: 7.3 Overall: 7.2 Recommendation: Read

Valiant provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: The Forgotten Queen #3

The Forgotten Queen #3

One of Valiant’s deadliest villains continues to wage war wherever she goes! 

Heartbreak and violence as the woman known as War-Monger meets her match in the deserts of Mongolia. Seeking vengeance, Vexana the War-Monger finds a kindred spirit in the man who would become to be known as Dracula – Vlad Tepes, warlord of Wallachia!

The Forgotten Queen #3 has a wonderfully understated plot that is able to keep the reader utterly engaged as it divides its time between the past and the present, tying together both stories as the issue progresses.

I’ve been enjoying the series so far, but this issue has been the highlight for me as Tini Howard gives you a surprisingly deep insight into what had been a fairly two dimensional character. I had never felt that War Monger ever had the depth to be considered anything other than a threat (unlike, say the villains who could be heroes, or the villains who at least have understandable motives), but as The Forgotten Queent has progressed, Howard has been able to change my perception of the character slowly and organically as we learn more about the immortal hell raiser as she moves through the years.

There’s also a slight growth to the character over the seven hundred years the story spans; a maturing of sorts that opens a door for further character growth to be explored. If the goal of this series was to flesh out Vexana, the War Monger, then Tini Howard has certainly succeeded; and with an issue still to come, I’m excited to see how she caps off the miniseries after the final page’s casual revelation.

Amilcar Pinna and Ulises Arreola once again are give a variety of different times and locales to flex their collective artistic muscles. Whether intentional or not the colour pallet begins to form a cohesiveness as the time periods in the comic close up, subconsciously allowing the reader to make the distinction between time periods without being explicitly told; it’s a brave choice that pays off as the issue comes to a satisfying close.

The Forgotten Queen #3 has none of the quibbles I had regarding the previous issue, instead surpassing my expectations with what I thought would be possible with a series focusing on War Monger. If you’re a Valiant fan, then it’s absolutely worth reading this series – whether War Monger will play a larger part in the future of Valiant, I don’t know, but it never hurts to gain an additional insight into a character that hasn’t had the spotlight in recent years.

Story: Tini Howard Art: Amilcar Pinna
 Colours: Ulises Arreola Letters: Jeff Powel 
Story: 8.6 Art: 8.5 Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Read

Valiant provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: The Forgotten Queen #2

The Forgotten Queen #2

All’s fair in love and war!

True to the name she’s been called throughout history, the War-Monger knows how to get a good fight going among even the best of friends. The outcome of the battle never mattered to her – at least, not until she fell head over heels for the Mongol Empire’s most fearsome warrior. She can poison hearts against one another…but can she win one for herself?

The Forgotten Queen #2 focuses more on the motivations of Vexana, the War Monger, as we glimpse her trying to win the heart of a warrior queen in the late 13th century. Though not explicitly a flashback sequence, the glimpses into the past are told as a story within a story as the research team learn more about the mysterious armour that they’ve retrieved from the sea bed.

This issue seems to fall somewhere between good and really good; it’s a comic of moments that almost blend together seamlessly, but like a slide at a water park, you can feel the edges even if you don’t necessarily see them as you zip down the covered tube. Tini Howard peels away a couple of layers on the onion that is Vexana, but the lack of cohesive flow to the comic detracts a little from the story’s characterization of its lead. The ideas and intent present in the comic are very interesting, but the ridges on the slide are a touch distracting.

Amilcar Pinna and Ulises Arreola to flex their collective artistic muscles with sweeping vistas and vibrant colours across land and sea, but, to return to the previous analogy, you can still feel the ridges in the slide. Facial expressions, body language and the figures themselves do feel a little off at times. Nothing hugely distracting, but certainly noticeable when it comes to your eyes following the page.

Ultimately, this is still a solid entry in the series, though it falls far from being a Must Read, it is still worth checking out if you’ve read the first issue. Yes, there’s still room for improvement over the next two issues, but even if things continue as they’re going, Forgotten Queen will remain an above average read.

Story: Tini Howard Art: Amilcar Pinna
 Colours: Ulises Arreola Letters: Jeff Powel 
Story: 8.1 Art: 8.0 Overall: 8.0 Recommendation: Read

Valiant provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: The Forgotten Queen #1

An ancient evil returns!

The Forgotten Queen #1

Long ago, the mighty generals of the Mongol Empire rode from Siberia to Carpathia and conquered all who stood in their way. Legends tell of a witch who walked with them, who could infect the hearts of any warriors in her midst with an unquenchable thirst for battle and bloodshed…a War-Monger. And now she is walking again.

Look, War Monger isn’t exactly a nice person. One could say she’s an outright villain with very little in redeeming qualities. What one cannot say is that the first issue in her solo series is devoid of quality. For despite the series focusing on the villain, the debut issue is really quite good; the story is split between the deep past and the present as we follow War Mother’s early(ish) life as it’s split with the present day where we follow a group of treasure hunters combing the depths of the ocean.

The Forgotten Queen tells the story of one of Valiant’s more underrated, though straight up, villains. From what we’ve seen of War Monger so far in the Valiant Universe, she’s a character who delights in causing chaos, claiming to be responsible for almost every major conflict in history. Last seen being dropped to the bottom of the ocean toward the of the Unity series, War Monger has been absent from the publisher’s comics for a couple of years now.

With Tini Howard setting pen to paper (or more likely tapping on a keyboard), one of Valiant’s more one dimensional characters is getting fleshed out. The first issue does it subtly, adding a gradual layer of humanity and allowing you to get a gradual understanding of the character without it being forced down your gullet, and the division of the story between the past and present flows smoothly and allows Amilcar Pinna and Ulises Arreola to flex their collective artistic muscles with sweeping vistas and vibrant colours across land and sea. Some of the facial expressions can be a little questionable, but nothing that’ll detract from the story itself.

Ultimately, this is a solid first issue, although there’s still room for the series to get better, this is still a worthy addition to your pull list – whether your a Valiant fan, or you just want a comic about a tough, sarcastic character. This isn’t a must buy, not yet, but it is worth your time and money.

Story: Tini Howard Art: Amilcar Pinna
 Colours: Ulises Arreola Letters: Jeff Powel 
Story: 8.3 Art: 8.2 Overall: 8.3 Recommendation: Buy 

Valiant provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review